Reba Festival in Ngada
The Ngada district is famed for its extraordinary cultural richness. A distinct architecture and fascinating material expressions of the Ngada people’s ancient belief system, such a massive stone altars and vivid ceremonial life. It is amazing to see how traditions are upheld with a strong commitment that is based on the honor and respect towards the Ngada people’s long none ancestors.
The most important ceremony is Reba, an annual held thanksgiving celebration to show respect to God and the ancestors for being blessed with a good harvest and wealth. It is a unique way in celebrating white local belief in Ngada – Central Flores.
Reba usually lasts for three days full of ceremonies and ritual activities which involves huge amounts of food crops and livestock that had been collected in advance. It focused on the legend of the community ancestors who traveled from far in search for a better place to grow their crops and rise their livestock. As yam used to be the most important staple food in the past, it is not surprising that many ritual focus on this nutrition tuber.
Generally Reba consists of several different ceremonial stages, beginning with collecting the offerings, receiving guests, dancing , reciting original myths, and praising the yam root. However initial rituals related to Reba start one week ahead of the actual festival. Some of these ritual are held at the outskirt of the villages. One of them is called Bui Loka a ceremony to clean the loka or Lanu a ritual site outside the village, with sacrificial stones where animal offerings are made.
Some of the Reba ceremonies are then held in the Kisanata, including the communal meals. Other rituals are centered around the ancestral shrines. Ngadhu is the tall wooden trunk with carving and a conical, thatched roof that represents a clan’s first male ancestor. Bhaga is looked like a miniature of a Ngada house, stands for the first female ancestor. The festival ends with throwing all the yam peels out of the village. Animal offerings are also important part of the sacred rituals during the festival.
Reba Festivities are held in almost all the villages of Ngada tribe starting on December to February. You can plan your trip to involve in this thanksgiving festival among the locals. Go with us to get in depth and understanding on the rituals.