Teh Bless, Conflict Resolution Ritual of the Moi Tribe

Teh Bless

Before modern society recognized substantive and formal law, the Moi already had their own mechanisms for resolving conflicts that arose in their society. A series of sacred ceremonies to resolve the conflict involving community members is called Teh Bless.

However, nowadays, this mechanism is rarely used and completely abandoned to resolve problems and disputes arising in the Moi’s socio-cultural life. Most disputes and problems are resolved through formal mechanisms. How the implementation of the conflict resolution mechanism through teh bless is the focus of this article.

What is Teh Bless?

Teh Bless is a traditional ritual of the Moi tribe in Sorong, West Papua, to resolve various conflicts that arise in the community. For example, disputes due to theft, slander, cheating, etc.

This mechanism ensures that all issues can be properly resolved without anyone feeling disadvantaged. This is because Teh Bless mechanism is not the usual law mechanism but is sacred. Anyone guilty will be found out. Although they deny the allegations from the other side.

Before Doing Teh Bless

Before Doing Teh Bless

When conflict arises, traditional elders hold meetings with the parties concerned. At this meeting, the dispute resolution mechanism, time, place, and amount of fines to be paid to Teh Bless winners may be determined.

After reaching an agreement on the mechanism to be used, the parties to the dispute usually make various preparations before the Teh Bless. First, they prepared food ingredients to be cooked during Teh Bless.

Apart from that, they also prepared a cultural property to use for the winner’s payout. Equally important is the presence of people who do Teh Bless to represent the warring parties.

The conditions for participating in Teh Bless are those who have a pure heart, have no grudges against others, and have no problems with anyone. If these requirements are not met, the traditional elders will not allow the person to participate in Teh Bless.

Therefore, the people who participate in this ritual are usually not only Moi, but also come from other regions and tribes. Provided they meet the requirements above. Those who attend to  Teh Bless are usually receiving a substantial reward.

Enforcement of Teh Bless

When the day to perform the ritual arrives, the opposing parties go to the river with traditional elders. The river that has been agreed upon to carry out Teh Bless has a water discharge as high as an adult`s calf.

Upon reaching the river, the warring factions are positioned to the left and right of the river. Similarly, it is divided into two parts with the audience.

Before the ceremony begins, traditional elders lead prayers to ensure that the ritual enforcement goes smoothly and the results are acceptable to all parties involved. After receiving a signal from the traditional elders, the ceremony begins. Each representative of the warring factions dips their head in the river, it’s called “molo“.

With their head into the water, they put their hand over a log planted in the middle of the river. They do not move the sunken head during the molo process. The side that moves the head is declared the loser of the molo ritual.

Most of the time, this molo process doesn’t take long. From both sides, this process typically takes less than 3 minutes. If they keep trying, they risk getting a nosebleed or will hurt their temples.

During the process of Teh Bless, the river banks are covered with long cloths and guarded by traditional elders. This Teh Bless implementation caught the attention of various members of the community, from children to the elderly.