By Intan Tanjung
The Jakarta Pos
MANGGARAI - Manggarai in East Nusa Tenggara is famous for traditional villages such as Wae Rebo, Ruteng Puu as well as its unique spider web-patterned rice fields.
It is also home to a fascinating cultural heritage that includes traditional dance performed to welcome special guests and for celebration. These dances were recently performed to greet the cyclists participating in Tour de Flores, held on May 19 to 23.
This dance is often performed to welcome special guests who come to visit Manggarai. The locals believe that this dance can cast out bad spirits that accompany the guests and also serves to request that the residing spirits in the area stay out of the celebration zone.
Caci is a martial arts dance that is usually performed during traditional ritual celebrations such as New Year, harvest time, or when opening new fields. The dance aims to show bravery and dignity by performing attack and defense capabilities with whips and shields. In certain areas like Wae Rebo village, it's only staged during specific ceremonies.
Teba Meka dance
Teba Meka has been dedicated to Tour de Flores cyclists. It was designed to show how excited the people of Manggarai were to have them visit the region.
Following the dance, a traditional ceremony was held to offer blessings to visitors. During this ceremony, the priest handed over an offering of traditional palm liquor and one white chicken to represent the pure intention of Flores people to greet Tour de Flores participants.
The priest continued by chanting a prayer to tell the ancestors that the visiting guests are not strangers and will later contribute to increase the welfare of Manggarai people.
Cekeng Weri dance
This dance illustrates the choreography of planting rice or corn, inspired by farming activities. Farmers usually start to plant between September and October when the rain starts to fall.
Staged during the gala dinner hosted at the Manggarai Regency office to entertain participants, this dance was performed to plant a seed of hope in the bike race, with an aim to promote the culture and tourism of the Manggarai area.