is a village alliance system unique to the Central Moluccas tying Moslem and Christian villages together and ultimately playing a pivotal role in traditional social relationships and experience of cultural identity.

For a short and concise primer on Pela click on the following link:

Voor een korte verkenning van de Pela verbonden in de Midden-Molukken klik hier:

Suatu tindjauan singkat tentang hubungan Pela di Maluku Tengah klik disini:


In 1974 I was privileged to attend the Bikin Panas Pela Ceremony between the villages of Rutong (located on Ambon Island) and Rumahkai, a coastal settlement in West Seram. It was held in Rutong lasting several days.

“Bikin panas pela” means “Heating up the alliance”. This ceremony should be held at least once during the growing up of the youngest generation in order to teach its members about the alliance history and its rights and obligations. This photo essay has historical significance since Moluccan society experienced drastic changes in culture in the last three decades since this ceremony was held.

To view the photo essay on Bikin Panas Pela Rutong Rumahkai Ceremonies, please click here or on any of the photos below:

Boats from Rumahkai arriving at shore of Rutong (32kb) Women being carried ashore. (33kb) Pohon Mange-2; Sacred symbol of this Pela Gandong.  (34kb) Crowd waiting at beach. (30kb)
Nora Raja Maspaitella greets Raja Korputty. (38kb) Old women dancing and swaying at beach. (24kb) All people from both villages are wrapped in Kain Elahua symbolizing that they are from the same womb. (34kb) View from the rear. (32kb)
Crowd at Baileu (Village Council House). (28kb) Rajas (Village Heads) at ceremony in front of Baileu. (39kb) Jojaro (nubile girls) dancing Tarian Lenso (Handkerchief Dance). (26kb) Close-up of girl. (17kb)
Rumahkai Girls dancing Hawaiian Hula Dance. (30kb) Batu Pemali (sacred stone) in Negeri Lama (original settlement) of Rutong.  (40kb)