Beautiful Bajawa

Selamat pagi Bajawa!

7th – 8th January 2010
I arrived in Bajawa just before sunset and booked in to the ‘Edelweis Hotel’. Bajawa is a quiet, relaxed hill town and is the main trading centre of the Ngada people, one of the most traditional groups in Flores.

I decided to book into a room upstairs, which had a huge verandah running along in front of the rooms and I had the most beautiful view over Bajawa with Gunung Inerie looming large in the outskirts of Bajawa.

The next day I woke up early to the beautiful morning views of Bajawa…the sun was not up yet, fog still hung low.

I was planning a busy day of visiting two traditional villages – Kampung Langa and Kampung Bena, I took a local guide a long with me for the day so that I could try and learn as much as possible, as some local people don’t speak bahasa Indonesia. The drive through the mountains was really quite spectacular…

First to Kampung Langa…it was a small village, with fantastic views of Gunung Inerie. William {my guide} and I ended up sitting on the verandah of a house and talking for hours. The old lady who lived in the house, brought us coffee so we felt quite comfortable to sit there on her verandah and drink our coffee and talk.

William explained all about the ngadhu {dedicated to the male ancestors} and the bhaga {dedicated to the female ancestors} and how these totem pole-like structures also represented the number of ethnic groups in the village. He also explained about the sacrifices of different animals – chickens, pigs and buffalos…and the significance of what animal to sacrifice for what occasion. We also discussed the matrilineal beliefs of the people of the Bajawa region – I like it! The women are classed as number 1 and are the boss – now that’s how it should be! William explained all about the traditions around engagement and marriage too.

Kampung Langa Flores pic collage

After having a good walk around Kampung Langa, we then walked down the hill to Kampung Bena. Kampung Bena is one of the most traditional Ngada villages, and its stone monuments or megalithics are a protected site.

Just like the other traditional villages that I had visited, the houses had high thatched roofs and they were all lined up in two rows, the space between them was filled with ngadhu and bhaga and some strange megalithic tomblike structures. Again buffalo horns and buffalo jawbones decorated the houses – a sign of how many sacrifices have taken place and a sign of the family’s prosperity.

One interesting point, which was different to the other villages that I had visited, were the male or female figurines that sat a top the roofs of the houses. Some even had a small house figurine sitting on top of the roof.

The villagers are a mixture of religions – Catholic and yet they still hold on to their animism beliefs too. Animists are found all over Indonesia – they believe animate and inanimate objects had their own life force or spirit, and that events and situations could be influenced by offerings, rituals or forms of magic. Those that are animists have held tight to ancient beliefs of their ancestors and they honour them through their various rituals and offerings of all sorts.

The grave sites were very evident in all of the villages. William and I sat under the bhaga and we could see the blood stains on the pole of the bhaga from a recent buffalo sacrifice. William explained how they would tie the buffalo to the pole of the bhaga and then proceed to sacrifice it..not really my favourite discussion but that’s life here…that’s adat – tradition!
We spent quite a long time at Kampung Bena too…before we headed back to Bajawa.

Kampung Bena Pic Collage

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