Pasola Jousting Festival

Pasola Jousting Festival

Image Courtesy: Austronesian Expeditions used under the Creative Commons Licence

Pasola Jousting Festival is one of the most exciting festivals where opposing teams run on horseback, saddle-less, throwing blunt spears at each other to unseat or hurt their opponents or horses. Fallen men or horses cannot be attacked.

The word Pasola is derived from the word Sola or Hola, which is the name of the blunt spears that are used to throw at each opposing group of horsemen. Although the tradition may seem full of violence, Pasola is about peacekeeping, not hostility. This war game is thought by some to have been invented as a sort of dispute settlement mechanism.

The night before the battle, the Sumbanese gather in the village at dusk and prepare offerings for their ancestors. The next morning, before dawn, the villagers go to the nearby shore, carrying buckets and nets to collect the multi-coloured sea worm (Nyale), which appear only once each year. Local shamans read the sea worm to predict the harvest for the year ahead. This is followed by feasting – on pigs, dogs and chickens – and preparations for battle. The rest of the villagers form a circle as the two groups on horseback issue taunts at each other. In the course of the fight, blood spill is believed to fertilize the land and produce a better harvest.

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