Various West Papua Customary Ceremonies You Should Learn


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Despite being Christians, West Papua people still hold customary ceremonies to repel badness and protect them. Learn some of them from the article below!


Christianity had been introduced to the whole Papua years ago. But, as a part of Indonesia known for its rich culture, the region has several cultures to maintain. One of them includes customary ceremonies.

Although most people in West Papua are Christians, that does not mean they should forget the cultures they were taught. Lifecycle ceremony, local people call it upacara daur hidup, is held to celebrate important events throughout the human’s life. These include birth, coming of age, marriage, and death.

Every tribe has its way of celebrating this kind of ceremony. Here are some customary ceremonies usually held by the Biak tribe in Raja Ampat.

Also read: Mansodarak Strengthens Family Ties

Birth Ceremony


This ceremony is held for a woman who is about to give birth. Before the delivery, the woman is sent to the basement. Two other women accompany her, one will hold her back while the other helps with the delivery.

When the baby is born, the West Papua people use a bamboo knife to cut the umbilical cord and dried. The cold is then put into a bag with some soil in it. Next, the cord is buried on land around the house.

It is a practice of the people of Biak that if a woman gives birth to twins, then one of them should be killed. It is because they believe that twins will bring misfortune. There are also beliefs that if the baby looks like its mother or father, the parent will soon be dead.

Coming of Age Ceremony


This ceremony applies to boys and girls. The ceremony for boys is called k’bor. It is similar to circumcision in Islam. Before the ceremony, a boy will be sent to a chamber for nine days. His body is covered with a mat. During the ceremony, the boy is circumcised by a circumcision shaman. After that, he is asked to go back to the chamber. His food is sent by someone who should not look at the boy’s face.

Meanwhile, the ceremony for girls is called aro era tu ura. This ceremony is held for a three to five-year-old girl. A shaman called aebe siewi will pierce the girl’s ear and nose.

West Papua Wedding Ceremony


The people of Biak believe in two ways of proposing marriage. First, by way of matchmaking. Parents of both couples carry out the process since childhood. The second is the common proposing done by the boys at 15 years old above. The boys come to the girls’ house to propose. In the proposal, the boys bring a necklace or bracelet made of beads to symbolize acquaintanceship. 

The preparation for the wedding ceremony should be done the day before. It is symbolized with dinner party between the two couples and all male relatives of mothers’ of the couples.

This wedding ceremony in West Papua should be held in the groom’s house. In the ceremony, the groom presents a dowry to the bridegroom. The ceremony details that both brides wear jewelry, like a necklace and bracelet. The couples still need to wear those jewelry days after the wedding.

The ceremony is held on a stage in the middle of the house. At midnight, each bride is shouldered by the relatives. The bridegroom is shouldered by four groom’s relatives and vice versa. Then, the couples are sent to the stage to sit. The ceremony aims at showing equality between two parties.

Then, the main event is considered started when the couples smoke the cigar given by the Chief. Then, the Chief leads the prayer while giving them roast cassava. After receiving the products, the couple feeds each other as a symbol that they have been husband and wife.

Wor Ceremony

All main families should hold this ceremony in Biak tribe. Wor is a ceremony aiming at praying to, inviting, and asking for protection from the God of the people of Biak so the God would protect the children in the families. Thus, Wor is held during the lifecycle of all people of Biak from birth to death.

Holding this ceremony is a necessity. It is believed that if a family does not hold the ceremony, the family’s life will be unstable. In other words, the family will experience disturbance or illness. The ceremony itself is held in the form of customary ceremony or customary singing commonly practiced by people of Biak.

Also read: Wutukala Dance by Moy Tribe

Death Ceremony

Cutting fingers as a symbol of grieving comes from the Dani tribe. In West Papua, the people of Biak hold a death ceremony in two days. The ceremony includes closing the nostrils, mouth, and earholes of the deceased with tobacco. Meanwhile, the head is turned away, and the eyes are closed.

Then, the corpse is laid in a burrow on a young coconut as a pillow. After the burrow is covered with dirt, all clan members overstep it. On the tomb, a small house is built to place things that used to be used by the deceased. After a month, the tomb is dug to take the deceased’s skull, which is believed to be where their ancestors dwell.

Hope you learn about the customary ceremonies in West Papua above.