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Jakarta Post

"Karong Woja Wole": A rice ceremony from the east

Tue, January 3, 2017   /   12:48 pm
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    Whiplash: Caci [whip fight] dance is performed by members of the Ndolu ethnic group at the peak of the Karong Woja Wole tradition. JP/Markus Makur

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    Colorful troupe: Women are dressed in traditional costumes in performing the Ndolu ethnic group’s Karong Woja Wole tradition in Ranakolong village, East Manggarai regency, Flores, East Nusa Tenggara. JP/Markus Makur

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    Hit them hard: Four Ndolu women are executing the ritual of tuk woja wole [pounding new paddy] in the yard of the Ndolu traditional house in Waekekik hamlet. The Ndolu custom only allows women to do this job. JP/Markus Makur

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    Passing the tradition: Ndolu women put paddy on the heads of Ndolu girls to perform the Karong Woja Wole tradition. JP/Markus Makur

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    Open for blessings: Elders of the Ndolu ethnic group open paddy wrappings for rituals of Karong Woja Wole. JP/Markus Makur

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    Lower is better: Paddy is lowered by Ndolu elders for community ritual purposes. JP/Markus Makur

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    Hand in hand: Ndolu elders are arranging paddy for rituals in the location of Watu Nurung [stone of offerings] in the Lodok Puran Kae field. JP/Markus Makur

Elders of the Ndolu ethnic group in Ranakolong village, East Manggarai regency in Flores, East Nusa Tenggara, recently performed Karong Woja Wole, a tradition of delivering newly reaped rice from the lodok puran kae [crop field] on Ndolu Hill, to the gendang ndolu [traditional house] in Waekekik hamlet.

All the residents, dressed in the traditional costumes of East Manggarai, along with 27 people tending crops in lodok puran kae gathered around the field’s watu nurung [stone of offerings] to carry out Semol Lodok Puran Kae, a ritual to end the planting season and part of the Karong Woja Wole tradition.

The Ndolu community greatly values and reveres rice. In the belief of this ethnic group, rice constitutes human blood that has grown into a crop. The rice traditions have always been observed by the local people every five years.
Head of the Ndolu ethnic group, Thomas Jala, told The Jakarta Post that his community had always conducted Karong Woja Wole before the crop planting season started.

“We have three places in the field in Ranakolong where we take turns to do rituals to revere nature, rice and corn,” he said.

Thomas indicated that the tradition had been inherited from the Ndolu ancestors and was continued by their descendants in Ranakolong.

If the series of rituals were not conducted, nature and Ndolu’s forebears would not bestow a harvest on the field or afford other business gains.

Thomas also said the Ndolu women played a major role in this tradition because they delivered the newly reaped rice, corn and other crops. Thomas likened the delivery to the local custom of parading a bride from one hamlet to another.

“Before entering the hamlet, the delivery procession is welcomed at the gate by other women with betel and lime to symbolize admission to the settlement and gendang [traditional house]. The community head is accorded a kepok [welcome] with moke [sugar palm liquor],” he said.