Last Sunday October of 28th, hundreds of people from 7 villages in East Manggarai Regency flocked Muara Limbu Lea, Nangarawa, Bamo Billahe. They flocked the place to hold a tradition called ‘Kebhu’, the local tradition of Iowa ethnic. The tradition is started by reaping corn seeds in Pinggir Limbu Mpubu Lea and Mpube Amu (Pond). The corn seeds reaped are the ones that have been milled. The corn seeds are reaped by the heir of the Iowa ethnic. He is the one who fully controls the procession during the Kebhu tradition. He must also come from a family who only has one child as the tradition cannot be held by descendants who have siblings in their family.
When the heir reaps the milled corn, he recites a kind of incantation in their local language namley ‘Rongga Language’. The incantation says that "rengo ika lere liang, oro lau mbahu oro lau". It means that fish and various creatures are to get out from their sanctuary. The incantation is used to ask for god's blessing so that people can obtain abundant fish and other creatures easily from the pond. After reciting the incantation, the heir of the tradition throws Ndala, a special fishing net used only for local tradition. The heir who throws the fishing net must be the first and only child in his family. The Ndala is made from neither nylon nor plastic but thread. The fishing net is an environmentally-friendly heritage. After the heir throws the net, people get into the pond to catch fish and other creatures. Unfortunately, pregnant women cannot participate in this ritual as they will get nothing. People are only allowed to catch fish and other creatures until afternoon.
Kefore the Kebhu tradition is held, there are a number of indigenous rituals held earlier. For example, the first ritual is called ‘Mbaru Gendrang’ (Zao Mrhje) in Iowa ethnic. The next ritual is carried out in Watu Nurung (servings for god are placed on this round stone). The stone is located under the tamarind tree called ‘Ponange’ near to the Nangaranga coast. The Ponange tree has been selected in Iowa's ancestors in a bid to perform rituals before they get into the estuary or the Mbupu Lea and Ama pond. The indigenous people of Iowa give serving dedicated to their ancestors and the universe such as betel, limestone paste, pinang tree, ketupat jagung (ricecake made from corn), chicken, and milled corn. Afterwards, the first heir of Iowa ethnic embeds a wood from a tree branch surrounding the stone. The ketupat jagung is hanged on the wood. As this ritual finishes, the chief of the tribe recites incantation to ask for god's blessing and permission so that the Kebhu ritual can be accepted.
Legend says the fish living in the pond used to be chickens. Thus, people present them the milled corn. The mystique legend is based on the explanation of Iowa's ancestors in Nangarawa. The tradition is maintained by local people and it is held once in five years.
That was Indonesian Wonder about Kebhu Tradition. See you on our next edition.