We know of the holy Semana Santa pilgrimage that takes place in Larantuka, East Flores, every year in April when this quiet little seaside hamlet is turned into a bustling town, filled with thousands of pilgrims wishing to fulfill a religious rite right before Easter.
But this year, another special festival took place at the same time as Semana Santa and it is known as the Bale Nagi Festival. In the local language, Bale Nagi means “returning home”. The festival was organized with the hopes that with this annual event, local residents of East Flores will return home during Semana Santa while also attracting more tourists to visit Larantuka.
“Travellers usually stay an average of 1-2 days here in Larantuka, but we’re hoping that the festival will entice them to stay longer,” said Muh Ricky Fauziani, the Assistant to the Deputy Director of Marketing Region III, Ministry of Tourism, Republic Indonesia.
“This year, we estimated that 300 visitors will attend the festival and Semana Santa in Larantuka, with most of the visitors coming from Timor Leste, America, Australia, Portugal, Spain, The Netherlands, France and German,” he added.
The Bale Nagi Festival kicked off on 6 April 2019 with a spectacular opening ceremony at Pantai Oa. The festivities continued with the East Flores Ika tTenun Exhibition on 12 April before the Semana Santa rituals, which took place from 17-21 April.
The Fishermen Festival was a delightful event in Larantuka town on 22 April and on 23 April. the East Flores Lamaholot Tenun Festival followed by a sacred ritual for the construction of a traditional home on the island of Solor before the closing of the festival of 25 April 2019.
Photo by Eduard Riwu on Instagram @eduardriwu