Every civilization has almost the same idea and belief about death. Man died and enter a new realm in a different life. The indigenous people of Nuaulu, Maluku believe in the process of death as nimoa nianehahae. Nimoa means village, and Nianehahae means a person who has died. The highest respect will be given to those who will enter the new realm.
When someone dies, she/he will be dressed in traditional Nuaulu clothing, then wrapped with a mat made from kokaya or tied pandan leaves. The dead body will be carried by the member of community and take to the Nimoa Nianehahae area which is about 5 kilometers.
The funeral should not be held in the afternoon, usually in the morning or in middle of the day. However, not everyone can enter the sacred area. Only those who have carried out the Makumaku ritual are allowed. Even family members can’t.
That holy place is in the forest. There is a rectangular table made from woods with 2 meters tall foundations. This is called Para-para. The dead body will be laid there. Bamboo fence were built around Para-para to prevent animals. After prayers and ritual is done, people will cleansed the outer area of Para-para and they walk around it five times.
Then an elder who appointed by the customary head of the deceased family’s clan, will determine the natural boundary between someone who has died and who is still alive, or called the Matametene area.
After the whole funeral process was completed, people go back to the village and not allowed to look back, to the tomb. Those who have died will be left forever.
This is not only during the funeral process. On normal days, if someone is in the forest and accidentally found the area of Matametene, they have to turn back direction and continue walk avoiding the area.
Heads of family clans gather before the ritual (photo: BPAN)
Nuaulu indigenous people live in the southern region of Seram Island, Maluku province. This indigenous community consists of six kingdoms which are administratively located in five villages: Rohua, Bonara, Watane, Hahuwalan, and Simalouw. Then divided into many clans or indigenous groups, with each clan is led by a leader.
Originally it was Nunusaku, the first kingdom on the earth of Nusa Ina. This kingdom includes all the traditional villages in Seram island. The Nuaulu community itself is a native of Nusa Isa in Seram island. They were descended of the King of Nunusaku named Upu Aman Latu Nunusaku.
The customary government centered in Nunu Nea. The traditional institution was led by a King Nuaulu from the highest clan (Matoke clan) named Sahune Matoke and a customary chief named Aipinoa Matoke.
Each clans has their own traditional house with different architectural types. The more traditional houses in a village locations, the higher the clan and the position in customary institution.
Written by: Syahadatul Khaira