Ferdinandus Dole, Frumensius Dole, and Alexander Elias: The Nggua Kéu Uwi Planting Rite of the Indigenous Lio People of Detukeli (Flores)


Nggua Keu Uwi (“Ritual of Areca Nut and Yam”) is a ritual of the Lio people of Detukeli village (Flores, Indonesia) held before planting rice. The main symbols in the Nggua Keu Uwi rite are areca nut and yam, which are linked to the history of the Lio-Ende people. The Lio-Ende people used to rely on yams as a staple food, but their living conditions improved after the emergence of rice agriculture. The religious significance of this rite can be understood as Eliade’s “eternal return”: by recounting and re-enacting the myths of Ine Pare and Lengo, the people of Detukeli enter the sacred time before their village of Detukeli was founded. The social functions of the ceremony are also considered through the lens of Durkheim’s theory of religion as a means of social regulation.

[Eastern Indonesia, Flores, planting rituals, religion, myth]