Bena traditional village is one of the most striking tourist attractions in the whole of Indonesia, and perhaps even the entire South East Asia region as well. It is situated around 17 km from the town of Bajawa, right in the district of Ngada and at the very heart of the Flores Island. In essence, it is a secluded village and its overall architecture is totally traditional and reminiscent of the Megalithic age.
All you need to know about Bena Traditional Village
Bena is characterized by wooden huts that feature thatched roofs. It stretches 375m in length and 80 m in width. As such, this village happens to be one of the very last remnants of the time when stone monuments dedicated to the ancestors formed an integral component of Indonesia’s regular way of life. Basically, Bena showcases this South East Asia nation’s deep rooted cultural heritage and its overall appearance has not altered in more than 1,200 years.
The population of the Bena traditional village
The inhabitants of the Bena traditional village currently hail from 9 different clans, which make up this small community. Some of the most notable of these are the Dizi, Dizi Azi, Deru Lalulewa, Wahtu, Ago, Ngada and the Khopa. These clans reside in 45 huts and each of them has been assigned a specific area in the terraced village.
The Bena clan’s allotted area is reserved at the heart of the community. This particular clan is revered as the most ancient and true founder of the village. Hence the reason why its name has been dedicated to this specific clan.
All inhabitants converse with each other through the Nga’dha dialect. When it comes to religion, most of the villagers profess the Catholic faith. Still, there is a small minority that stubbornly persists in ancestral worship and hold dear to heart the ancient rituals and customs of the bygone era.
The whole village’s population currently stands at 326 souls, who are grouped in 120 different families. On the other hand, there are thousands of direct descendants of the village who reside outside its confines.
Things to do in Bena traditional village
At the centre of the Bena traditional village is to found a large stone monument that takes the form of an alter. There are also 2 diminutive huts in this part of the village. These huts are identified as the Ngado and the Baja respectively.
They are considered by the inhabitants to be the symbolic representatives of the male and female ancestors who first founded this community. Once you gain entry into the village, you will be able to review these 3 ancient relics at your leisure. The villagers are highly noted for their lively enthusiasm for entertaining guests, and are also very courteous to strangers.
Still, most of them set off to tend the surrounding valleys, where they cultivate green gardens during daytime. Nevertheless, there are always young children and old folk to be found in Bena. The latter of which can be highly invaluable in regaling you with the community’s history and its traditional leanings.
You will also be presented with excellent shopping opportunities during your visit. Indeed, some of the inhabitants are expert in traditional weavings and handcrafts making. One of the finest products in the offing here is, without doubt, the ikat, a traditional woven basket, which can serve as the most perfect souvenir of your visit to Bena.
Bena traditional village & Mount Inerie
The inhabitants of the village have an ancient belief that the god Zeta resides at the pinnacle of Mt. Inerie. This is a close by active volcano, which juts to the sky at an altitude of 2,245 m. This mountain’s western slope is overgrown with a very dense forest that is fascinating to observe.
The southern slope of Mt. Inerie has been extensively cultivated by the villagers with elaborate orchards. To this people of Indonesia this mountain represents the cherished right of the mother, which they reverently call hak mama. While Mt. Surulaka is widely believed to be the right of the father, hak bapa. Mt. Inerie pinnacle provides scenic views from all the 4 different directions, including a spectacular one of Bajawa town.
Bena traditional village & Betel nut and camphor chewing
The practice of chewing betel nuts and camphor is a striking custom among the inhabitants of this secluded Indonesian community. The people of Bena usually do this at all times of the day, from morning to late in the night as their ancestors did.
This particular concoction is a blend of betel leaves, lareca nuts, gambier as well as some tobacco, and produces a reddish juice once chewed. It is naturally not very palatable to the uninitiated, but if you are of an adventurous disposition, you can give it a try.
Bena traditional village & Hazel nuts
The inhabitants of Bena traditional village are noted for cultivating hazel nut seeds, which have some mild toxic substances in them. When harvested, these villagers then heat them without any oil or water to eliminate these toxic substances.
Alternatively, they spread these hazel nuts seeds out in hot weather, and sun’s heat then does away with the toxins. These particular seeds are regarded as excellent sources of oil and even compose some of the spices this community use. Additionally, they can yield a special kind of oil that can be utilized in the preparation of a sort of paint.
Public transportation to this Indonesian village is available in the form of some few vehicles, which however, only operate during the early parts of the day. On the other hand, you can able to hire a motorcycle ride from Bajawa to the Bena traditional village and is known as Ojeck.
Finally, if you have sufficient time on your hand, you can opt to walk your way to Bena. The main route from Bajawa to the village cuts through Mt. Inerie, and presents a wide variety of excellent photo taking opportunities. You will also get to pass through other villages on your way, and interact with the locals.
Prior to gaining entrance to the village proper, you will have to pass through a guard post. You will then be obliged to purchase a ticket and sign a guest book, before ultimately been admitted into the Bena village.