A Theological Interpretation of Second Burial (Makawera) Traditions in Sumba

Main Article Content

Herman Punda Panda
Mikhael Valens Boy


This paper is the result of research on the tradition of makawera (exhuming and reburying bones of the dead) in Southwest Sumba, especially among those who have converted to Christianity. Some argue that this phenomenon is a symptom of a dualism of belief, or syncretism. However, other theological approaches might help us approach this practice positively. The purpose of this study is to observe the Sumbanese (Marapu) practice of exhuming the dead from a theological point of view. Data for this research was collected through literature reviews, in-depth interviews with a number of respondents, and observations of the Marapu practice of makawera using descriptive qualitative methods. The authors conclude that the purpose of Christians practicing makawera is not to ensure the salvation of the human soul, and so Sumbanese beliefs should not be seen as contradictory to Christian teaching. Christians in Southwest Sumba recognize that salvation is entirely granted by God through the redemptive work of his Son Jesus Christ. Marapu Christians also hold that this ceremony is critical for respecting the human body, the abode of God’s spirit. Even if the bones remain after Jesus causes the soul to depart, these bones are still worthy of respect.


Download data is not yet available.

Article Details