Document 198484

some of their most popular motifs. The horse – jara - is a frequently featured
symbol that visualizes transportation, travelling, trading, and hunting.
Furthermore, horses are a vital part of the marriage dowries in Ngada. Manu
jawa, the chicken, is a symbol for the continuity of life: the crowing of the
rooster signals to the people that it is morning and time to commence one’s
daily activities; besides the chicken also symbolizes the smallest animal
offering, which is required on every step of house construction. The dragonor snake-shaped sawa ba’a is the protector of the house, more precisely of the
ancestral spirits, which are believed to reside inside the house.
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Only some footsteps out of the village, there is a ritual site with five bhagalike houses called loka – one for each clan. The loka face the watu lanu, a
construction consisting of an elevated stone court framed by ijuk-covered
poles. This site is mainly used by the Belaraghi for the ‘bui loka’, a ceremony to
initiate Reba, the Ngada wide New Year festivities. To the Belaraghi people,
visitors from abroad are guests, not tourists. Therefore, guests are traditionally
welcomed with a ceremony called ti’i ka ebu nusi, which translates as
‘give food to the ancestors’. It is about introducing the guests to the host’s
ancestors, to ask for their blessings so that no obstacles may come in the way
Ja’i, traditional welcome dance
of the traveller, and to ask the evil spirits in the mountains not to cause any
harm to them. The ritual takes place in the sao one, the most sacred inside
part of a Ngada house. By reading the intestines of a sacrificed chicken, the
mosalaki can see if there is any incidents on the way to Belaraghi, and he will
make predictions about the continuation of the guests’ journey by the nature
of the intestines.
Ngadhu (male ancestral shrine) and Ture
If you want to experience Ngada culture beyond popular Bena and Wogo,
and if you are ready to invest a little time and physical effort, you should dare
to hike to the extraordinary village of Belaraghi and spend the night in this
beautiful place. You can look forward to being received by an extraordinarily
warm, open hearted small community with a good sense of humor.
The concerns about your bruises and blisters will immediately disappear
when Belaraghi reveals itself in front of you like an old hidden but precious
treasure out of this world. Belaraghi has seen only few visitors yet, to most
of them, it was love at first sight. The sixteen beautiful traditional houses are
located in a secluded forest clearing, providing natural harmony.
The people of Belaraghi have been rejecting any changes to their houses i.e.
tin roofs or concrete walls, not for the sake of tourism, but out of their own
conviction that their houses and the cultural values attached to them are
worth being maintained. The sixteen traditional houses, standing tidily in
two parallel rows, are renovated on a regular basis and are thus in very good
condition. Five of those sixteen houses are so-called sao pu’u, first or original
After ti’i ka ebu nusi, it is time to sit together for conversation and a shared
meal. As there is no electricity yet in Belaraghi, the soft light of the oil-lamps
brings a very cozy atmosphere inside the neat and clean wooden houses. At
night, enjoy these rare moments of silence, with only nature’s sounds that will
accompany you to sleep. As Belaraghi is already close to the coast, it will not
get as cold as in Bajawa at night.
houses, which are indicated by a miniature house on the roof; the other five
distinct buildings are sao lobo, ‘last houses’, which feature a miniature human
figure on the roof.
Five is also the number of clans living in Belaraghi at present. Each of the clan
has its own sao pu’u, sao lobo, as well as a ngadhu and a bhaga. However,
there are only three pairs of ancestral shrines because two of the clans are
still waiting for the appropriate time to bring them from another village to
Belaraghi. Besides the buildings mentioned, the Belaraghi clans are also
affiliated with another house type: the sao kaka (with kaka meaning ‘to
share’). These houses are considered ‘children’, the descendents of a clan’s
sao pu’u and sao lobo. Some of the sao kaka is even located in other villages.
The kaka inhabitants support their families in the sao pu’u and the sao lobo
financially, materially and with work power.
How to get there
The most interesting and rewarding, but also most demanding, way to reach
Belaraghi is by a 11 km hike starting from Beiposo village near Bajawa.
This hike is not recommended during the rainy season. As you will mostly
follow downward paths in the forest that are rarely used and hard to find
by the untrained eye, it is indispensable to have a versatile guide with you.
Furthermore, a good guide can explain the many interesting facts about the
lush flora that you will encounter during your journey, and can clarify your
questions about local culture. A guide can also organize accommodation for
you in the village. The next morning, you can continue your hike on a broader
road heading towards the coast of Aimere. Depending on your stamina, you
can jump on your pre-organized transportation earlier or further down the
main road.
Carvings are an important element of Ngada buildings. They can be found
outside and inside the houses, prominently the sao pu’u, as well as on the
ancestral shrines. In Belaraghi, you get a good opportunity to look closer at
Landscape of vast hilly land and Aimere coast before
reaching Belaraghi village (top)
Traditional house entrance (bottom)
14 | TransNusa
| Inflight Magazine | Nov - Dec 2011
TransNusa | Inflight Magazine | Nov - Dec 2011 | 15
A most beautiful and luxurious beach resort
towards Keligejo village, drive to Pauleni village and
register in the guestbook as a visitor to Belaraghi.
Continue your drive to Paukate village, passing the
SDK Paukate and the Kantor Kepala Desa (village
head office) Keligejo. The distance from the Keligejo
junction to Paukate village is less than 4 km. Paukate
is a good starting point for your hike. If you are on your
own motorbike or car, ask at one of the local houses
to park your vehicle there (a small donation would be
appreciated). If you have a car or ojek driver, don’t forget
to arrange a pick up time.
There are not many guides who can assist the trekking
to Belaraghi yet. Wilhelmus Doi, an experienced trekking
guide from Bajawa who is well versed in Ngada nature
and culture, may even be the only one at the moment.
He can give you more information about the different
options and arrange everything for the trekking, from the
transportation to the accommodation in the village.
If you want to see Belaraghi with less effort in a day,
you can also reach the village in less than 3 km hike that
starts at Paukate village. Passing on a good and mostly
even road, you will be surrounded by beautiful wideopen and soft-hilled grasslands with a stunning view of
the Aimere coastline.
Belaraghi is one of Flores’ cultural gems featured in a
book published by Swisscontact - Flores: A Glimpse of the
People and Culture.
From Bajawa, take the Transflores highway towards
Aimere. After about 2.5 km, take a right turn at the
Ende – Aimere junction. About 35 km on, at the junction
For more information, please see
An adat elder of Belaraghi
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16 | TransNusa
| Inflight Magazine | Nov - Dec 2011
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