xt/javascript" src="../static/js/analytics.js"> Marapu in Nusa Tenggara
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Marapu in Nusa Tenggara

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.

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