BAJAWA culture village
Bajawa, the capital of the Ngada district, is a small charming town located in the middle of the Florinese highlands.
As the regional center of the Ngada people – who still keep their long-standing culture firmly anchored in communities – Bajawa is a perfect starting point to explore the past and present Ngada way of life.
As Bajawa is the highest (around 1500m above sea level) and coolest town in Flores, this area is ideal for hiking and trekking adventures in comfortably refreshing surroundings of utter natural beauty. If you are in good shape, you can choose to climb one of the nearby volcanoes or simply take a relaxing hike to the natural hot springs.
Plenty of local cultural events take place in Bajawa and its surroundings
. The most popular ones are ‘reba’ and ‘sagi’. Reba is held in Bajawa, Bena, Mangulewa, Wogo, and many other surrounding villages. It is the traditional new year celebration and one of the most important thanksgiving festivals, accompanied by extensive ceremonial and ritual activities. From May until July, traditional boxing, called sagi, determines the Ngada (and also Nagekeo) ceremonial life. These, and other ceremonies and local events, are usually scheduled and take place at a fixed date. Being part of such events will definitely be an unforgettable highlight of your journey.
Bena, a community that is situated about 16km from Bajawa at the foot of Mount Inerie, is the most famous and also most visited village in the Ngada district. With its impressive stone formations and ancestral shrines, as well as traditional houses, Bena has turned into a signpost for Ngada culture.
The village consists of two parallel rows of traditional, high thatch-roofed houses. Highly visible in the center of the village are ngadhu and bhaga, pairs of shrines – one for each clan of the village – representing the clan’s ancestors. The ngadhu is an anthropomorphic umbrella-like pole embodying the male ancestor of a clan. The trunk is decorated with carvings and is topped with a warrior-like figure. The ngadhu symbolizes fierceness and virility. After a new ngadhu has been carved out of a special tree, the men of the village carry the pole in a ceremonial way into the village.
The bhaga, a female ancestral clan shrine, is a small hut with a thatched roof that resembles a miniature of a traditional house. It symbolizes the sanctuary of the house and the female body. The bhaga offers enough space for one to two persons to hold rituals for female ancestors.
Another distinct feature of Ngada culture, of which
Bena offers an awesome sight, are the megalithic formations in the village center.
Megaliths are a means to connect with the supernatural realm and to communicate with the ancestors, often by animal sacrifice. As with the ngadhu and bhaga shrines, there is also a stone altar to every village clan. Additionally, a massive pile of flat stones, called lenggi, represents a court where the different clans of the village settle their legal disputes. If you look closer at the houses in Bena, you often find them decorated with skulls and horns of water buffaloes and pig jaws which were sacrificed at different ceremonies.
WAWO MUDA CRATER
In the year 2000, due to small eruptions, a red-colored lake emerged out of the mountain’s crater named Wawomudha. Thus, the new-born lake was called Wawo muda Crater Lake with several small crater lakes coloured a burnt orange. This spectacular natural phenomenon is located a 1½ hour hike from Ngoranale Village. From Bajawa to Ngoranale it takes about 15–20 minutes (8–10km) by car.
The volcano is best visited in the wet season from November to March
, if the trails are not too muddy. The lakes usually evaporate in the dry.