A girl smiled shyly, showing off her missing tooth, when her relatives praised her looks after being dressed up. “Oh my God, how lovely….” Wa Asa grandma, one of the relatives, praised Nadira.
Nadira was one of hundreds of girls who would take part in the Karia ceremony at the Barata Kahedupa festival in Kaledupa Island, Wakatobi regency, Southeast Sulawesi.
During the festival, the islanders who have lived outside the island – such as in Wangi-Wangi, Kendari, Buton and Makassar – returned home with their family members to join the Karia ceremony.
The ceremony took place for two days: for celebrating Henauka Mo’ane and Henauka Wowine, respectively.
Henauka Moa’ne is a coming of age celebration for boys, who have undergone circumcision. They are usually being marched around the island and must go through several rituals including cutting their hair and praying.
Meanwhile the Henauka Wowine is a coming of age celebration for girls, who have also undergone female circumcision. There are two categories for girls to take part in the Karia ceremony: children and teenagers (or already having menstruation)
The purpose of the ceremony is to prepare a girl with education and local wisdom to they can go through puberty.
Prior to the Henauka Wowine, all the girls who have puberty are being isolated for between eight and 40 days. Meanwhile, the female children only have to cut their hair, or locally known as langgi-langgi.
In the morning before the D-day, the girls are being put on makeup just like brides and wear traditional costumes.
Then the girls are carried by their male relatives from their house to the field. They screamed “lego-lego” which literally means no debt because all families who take part in the Karia ceremony fully participate by bringing their own food or decorating the carts.
At the end of the ceremony, a religious leader will perform landa futa – where he greases turmeric on each girl’s forehead and feed -- and will lead a prayer to pray for the girls’ better future. [yan]