Although Christianity has in recent times spread considerably
throughout the island, it is still possible to see the remands of
an ancient Indonesian pagan culture. Well over half of the
population adheres to the animist Marapu religion -an central and
land spirit worshiping. More than 60% of the population of West
Samba holds to their traditional system of beliefs. This belief is
considered a religion since the system of worshiping the highest
being is quite formal and routine. They believe in temporary life
in the world and the eternal life in the Doomsday, in the world of
spirits in Marapu heaven - Prai Marapu The world Marapu means
firstly, the occupants of the eternal heaven, who lead a similar
existence to men. They live in couples and one of these couples is
the ancestor of the Sumbanese. Secondly, the spirits of Sumbanese
ancestors in Prai Marupu. Thirdly the spirits of their relatives,
and fourthly, all spirits dwelling the universe. Marapu has
mysterious and magical authority over human life. So, it has
animistic, spiritual, and dynamic elements. This is obviously seen
in every festival held in Sumbanese daily life that the festivals
into magical factor strongly influencing the belief by placing
spirits role as the main component. Any spirits, according to
Marapu beliefs, consist of two elements i.e. Ndewa and Hamanangu.
In short, the Marapu concepts are the teachings about the balance
of the universal life through which the happiness can be gained.
The balance is symbolized by the Great Mother (ina Kalada) and the
Great Father (Ama Kalada). who live in the universe and take the
forms of the moon and the sun. In mythology, they are husband and
wife who gave birth to the ancestors of the Sumbanese. The honor
Marapu, the Sumbanese put effigies, called Marapu statues, on
stone altars where they lay their offerings in the forms of Sirih
Pinang (a dish containing betel leaves, nuts and lime) and
sacrificial cattle. The statues of Marapu are made of wood in the
shape of human faces. These images are usually placed in the yard
of their houses or inside the traditional houses.
death is seen as transition between worldly and heavenly life.
Therefore the funeral should be executed in special ceremony, so
the human soul can properly proceed into the Marapu heaven. By the
ceremony, the relatives help and ensure the safety of the human
souls. This ceremony consists of two stages. Firstly, corspe is
dressed up and put in a wood box with 50 cm diameter, in squatting
position breaking knees and elbows. Then it is placed in a small
tent waiting for next stage of ceremony, while guarded by
Papanggang (security guard). The day before the first stage ends,
there is a ceremony named Pahadang led by RATO (Marapu priest),
praying for the dead. Rato speaks to the dead to close the
gravestone and ask him not to worry about the family he has left
behind, and to prepare proceed to Praimarapu.
Before second stage, the gravestone should be prepared with the
size depends on the social status of the dead. It should be
dragged from outside village started and ended in special
ceremony, using hundred meters of rope made of palm fibre. Then,
the second stage is started. The dead is carried and marched in a
procession with some people riding on the decorated horses.
Hundred of people usually faint during the procession due to
spirit. At the cemetry, the dead is placed in a megalithic
stonegrave. You can see these graves in many villages such as
Prailiu, Kawangu, Pau, Rende, etc.