Indonesia is one of the countries that have a lot of cultures, including races and tribes. Not only that, but there is also one interesting fact that people should know about this country. There are approximately 187 local beliefs that have been recorded, and even there are only six religions that are acknowledged by the government. Those local beliefs are spread on all the islands in Indonesia, starting from Sumatra, Java, Borneo, and Papua. One of these beliefs or religions also exists in Sumba Island in East Nusa Tenggara.
Marapu is the religion that more than half of the Sumba people embrace. The word ‘Marapu’ is not only a religion. It is also referring to the soul of the ancestor. This belief is sourced in a megalithic belief era where the soul of a dead person will not leave forever, but the soul is transferred to another place. One of the most populated places that Marapu’s adherents in Sumba lived is in Prai Yawang, Rindi village. They live in a wooden house with a reed roof, and it is very traditional. Most of the people are working as farmers. This house consists of three parts that have a cattle pen at the lower ground called Kali Kebungga. At the upper ground, there will be a place for people to do activities. The last part of this house is a storage room to store food and any sacred object.
This religion taught the adherents to worship their ancestors. They believe that the worshipped ancestor can help and give them security and peace to live in this world. The Marapu embrace also believes that they live in this world temporarily, and after the end of the world, they will live forever in the Marapu’s heaven that is called Prai Marapu. The supreme lord, Wolu Tou Raibada, creates all human and non-human that live in this world. The core of Marapu teaching is to balance life in the universe. By having a balanced life, it will lead to security, safety, and happiness.
All the rituals in Marapu tend to respect the ancestors because they believe that this ancestor is a bridge to connect them with God. The people cannot have a direct connection or relationship to God without the ancestors. There is a sacred house that is unsettled by the people called Uma Diawa. It is a house where all people communicate with their ancestors.
Any sacred object can be made or represented as Marapu or having a soul because it has been bathed by sacrificing blood. The sacrifice rituals happen when there is a funeral or other traditional ceremony. This sacred object can answer any questions from humans, and there will be a ritual to do the animal sacrificing process. The interesting part is when king descent is dead, the body is wrapped in a bull skin and wrapped with a cloth after three days. After that, the body will be placed in a big house to be the last resting place. The people will do Hamayang pray who will be led by the Chief of the Tribe. The Hamayang is the prayer with a purpose to be a preparation of sending the dead’s body soul to the ancestors.
There is a reason why Indonesia has not acknowledged Marapu or any local beliefs. Since all the six recognised religions have a lot of population, it can be a good reason why Indonesia acknowledged them. As we know that there are 187 local beliefs with a certain number of people who embrace one of them in Indonesia, and it makes it hard to identify or understand all of them. These local beliefs tend to be a culture of an area, and luckily there are still people who embrace and conserve it.
Writer Ade Rachmat Prasojo
Student Of Sampoerna University