This small city is the capital of western Sumba. It and the surrounding area is known as Wanukaka, and there is a population of about 10,000. This remote region is home to Sumba's most spectacular attraction - the pasola - and some truly stunning beaches.
Pasola is a ritual horseback jousting competition in western Sumba to celebrate the rice planting season. The jousts involve throwing wooden spears at the opponent from a different clan. Horse-riding skills are paramount and the joust ends when the wooden spear hits the bare flesh of an opponents. The Sumbanese ancient beliefs state that spilled blood will fertilize the land and increase the output of the rice paddy.
In the Wanukaka region, as part of the ritual, early in the morning the Marapu priests and their entourage go the beach to perform a prayer. They sacrifice a black rooster to the gods and check the heart of the cock to read the signs from the gods as to whether to proceed with the pasola.
The timing of pasola rituals is very much a moving feast determined by factors which nobody outside Sumba seems to understand. If you are planing to visit Sumba especially to witness this truly unique event, it is best to check first with agents in Bali or Lombok where many visits to Sumba originate. All that being said, March seems to be a popular month.