The tradition of roasting pork on stones is an important ritual for tribes living in Papua’s Pegunungan Tengah, or Middle Mountains, like the Dani, Amungme, Lani, Nduga, Moni, Damal and Mee tribes. The bakar batu [roasting stone] ritual is held when the tribes welcome important guests to their villages, engage in a collective prayer before some major work or celebrate a birth or wedding. It can also accompany the inauguration of a village head.
The rite begins with slaughtering a pig and preparing the stones by placing them in fire, sometimes until they turn red. Besides pork, people also cook tubers and vegetables on the stones, which are arranged in a way to ensure the heat is evenly spread.
Bakar batu is done by heating the stones with wood in several piles.
The hot stones are then placed inside a hole, the bottom of which is covered with banana leaves and grass.
The chopped pork is placed on banana leaves on top of the hot stones, then covered with banana leaves, followed by second layer of hot stones, again covered with banana leaves.
This serves to cook sweet potato, cassava and other vegetables, which are covered with yet more leaves and another layer of stones to provide heat from above, covered with with banana leaves and grass.
When everything is cooked and ready, the people gather around for the feast.
Every villager takes part in the ritual from the planning until the event itself. Each also volunteers something for bakar batu from the pig itself to the wood or the vegetables.
Togetherness is what makes bakar batu a special occasion for the villagers. [evi]