Traveling to a far-flung island with only a few luxurious retreats perhaps leaves you with minimal chance of opting for the place, but Sumba Island in eastern Indonesia surprises you with auspicious offerings.
The island's western province recently held the two-day traditional Pasola war festival in the remote village of Kodi Pangedo where spectators gathered to watch two groups of highly skilled Sumbanese tribal men on horseback flinging spears at each other.
Sometimes, when the wooden spears hit a participant making him bleed, the villagers sigh in a belief that the blood will fertilize the land giving them rich harvest of rice and corns, their lifeline for livelihoods.
The West Sumba people follow the ancient ritual of the war game to celebrate rice planting season and seek God's blessings for a good annual yield. This year's war festival was held Feb. 16 and 17.
The villagers of the West Sumba province may wound themselves in the mock battle but the uniqueness of this cultural event would hardly keep tourists at bay.
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While traditional Sumbanese houses are an architectural delight away from the mainland, the island's textile, hand-woven double-ikat clothes are a specialty which visitors would want to take back with them. The island is also known for sandalwood, megalithic tombs, Stone Age villages, which have remained untouched for centuries, and horses.
Sumba Island's scenic natural beauty with panoramic, sandy beaches, which are still less-traveled, is yet another attraction, which the country's tour operators believe cannot be overshadowed by the famed tourist hot spot Bali.
Sumba Island is an ideal getaway to experience the serenity of Indian Ocean. The island boasts of only four resorts - The Sumba Nautil Resort on the south western coast, Newa Sumba Resort on the Northwestern coast, Monalisa Cottages in the town of Waikabubak in west Sumba and Nihiwatu Resort, the only luxury resort, which has been acknowledged as one of the world's five best eco-hotels.
The island is connected by 15 regular flights per week from Bali's Ngurah Rai airport. It takes an hour's flight to reach Sumba.
Do check out some of the pictures of Sumba Island and the Pasola festival below, while you plan to fly to the Indonesian paradise for your next vacation.
A man riding a horse prepares to throw his wooden spears at his rival during the two-day Pasola War Festival in the remote Kodi Pangedo village, in Indonesia's West Sumba province, Feb. 17, 2012. Photo: REUTERS/Yusuf Ahmad
Tribal elders walk during a ritual procession amidst the two-day Pasola War Festival in the remote Kodi Pangedo village, in Indonesia's the West Sumba province, Feb. 17, 2012. Photo: REUTERS/Yusuf Ahmad
Sumbanese wooden houses are seen standing in a remote Kodi Pangedo village, where the two-day Pasola war festival is held, in the Indonesian West Sumba province Feb. 14, 2012. Photo: REUTERS/Yusuf Ahmad