Life in West Papua presents a story that is always worth knowing. Including the hunting culture which is still inherent in the daily life of the people there. It is a ritual of animal hunting by the Sentani people in the village of Ayapo, Papua, namely Elha.
Elha is a way of hunting wild animals in groups. The Sentani people in the village of Ayapo still maintain this hunting tradition. This village is still carrying out Elha, which is considered to have a high value based on their views.
You will be amazed by the story behind this Elha tradition. This is because Elha is not just a hunting activity but is full of values.
Implementation of Elha
Elha has begun to be rarely done by some communities, but the community of the Sentani people in the Ayapo village located on the coast of the lake still does it. This is because Elha is an ancestral heritage that deserves to be preserved.
In the village of Ayapo, there is the head of the wilayat rights ruler, known as Ondoafolo. Elha is an inherent right owned by Ondoafolo. When people are mourning or about to hold a celebration, Ondoafolo will announce Elha’s activities.
In preparation for the implementation of Elha, there will be a meeting between tribal chiefs, known as khotelo. From the results of this deliberation, Ondoafolo will call a messenger or abuakho to announce to the general public.
In the evening, the abuakho will walk around the village and provide information on Elha’s implementation. The men will make preparations such as not doing anything forbidden before Elha and preparing tools for hunting.
Things Forbidden Before Elha
There are several things that Sentani men are forbidden to do before doing Elha. This is done to maintain the traditional values that exist in Elha. These things include not having sex with husband and wife, sleeping in separate places with women, not being allowed to eat breakfast, and not being able to turn your head when someone calls you.
The hunting equipment used is a spear. The Sentani people do not use bows because the geography of the Ayapo village area does not support the use of bows themselves.
Ayapo village is a hilly area covered by thick grass and grass fields. Slightly different from the characteristics in other villages.
Ritual Before Elha
Elha is usually done in the morning to evening. Before leaving to hunt, the Sentani people will perform a special ritual first. The performer of this ritual is abuakho from the Pulanda and Ohodo clans. At first, a fire would be lit in the hills as a sign for the men to gather.
After all, are gathered, they will set the hunting strategy as well as the direction and location of the hunt. Before leaving, Abuakho will carry out a cleansing ritual intended so that the men who go to Elha avoid harm during hunting.
This cleaning process is marked by traditional leaves (kamea/puring) which are then patted on the shoulders of every man who leaves for Elha. This cleaning will also motivate those who join in implementing Elha because they believe they are free from unwanted things.
Results of Elha’s Hunt
The results of Elha’s hunt will be paraded with poetry and dance to the traditional hall (obhe). Those involved in Elha would decorate themselves with leaves. Previously, Abuakho would convey the news of the success of obtaining this hunted animal to Ondofolo.
The waiting community will also welcome it with joy because they feel proud of the success of their husbands, children, or sons-in-law.
The Elha tradition of the Sentani people holds the value of gotong royong, the value of caring, and the value of togetherness. The Elha hunting ritual is one of West Papua’s cultures that deserve to be preserved.
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