The island of Sumba in eastern Indonesia is home to the Pasola festival - a potentially fatal spear-throwing fight on horseback.

Sometimes called the Forgotten Island, Sumba's people still follow ancient customs and traditions. Their unique thatched houses have three levels: the lower one is for livestock, the middle is for humans (women in rooms on the left, men on the right) and the top level is where is the ancestors live.

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The Milky Way arcs over traditional houses in Wainyapu village on the island of Sumba, Indonesia, during the Pasola Festival, an event held every year to welcome the new harvest seasonUlet Ifansasti/Getty

The Pasola is held every year in February or March when the Nyale, or sea worms, can be found in the shallow waters. The coming of the worms marks the end of the wet season and the time to begin planting rice – and the time to saddle up and throw spears at your rivals.

The ancient fighting game involves two teams of men on horseback charging towards each other with spears. It's a dangerous sport; players and even spectators can be injured or killed. It is believed that any spilled blood will fertilise the land and increase the year's rice crop.

Villagers gather on the beach at sunrise to look for sea worms. These worms, known as Nyale, can be found in the shallow waters during February and March. The coming of the worms marks the end of the wet season and the time to begin planting rice
Villagers gather on the beach at sunrise to look for sea worms. These worms, known as Nyale, can be found in the shallow waters during February and March. The coming of the worms marks the end of the wet season and the time to begin planting riceUlet Ifansasti/Getty
A woman holds a bowl of sea worms. The size and the shape of the worms are believed to predict the year's rice crop
A woman holds a bowl of sea worms. The size and the shape of the worms are believed to predict the year's rice cropUlet Ifansasti/Getty
Rriders prepare to throw their spears during the Pasola war festival
Rriders prepare to throw their spears during the Pasola war festivalUlet Ifansasti/Getty
A man rides into 'battle'
A man rides into 'battle'Ulet Ifansasti/Getty
A rider tries to hit a rival with a 'pasol' javelin
A rider tries to hit a rival with a 'pasol' javelinUlet Ifansasti/Getty
A boy wearing an Arsenal shirt sits on horseback at the festival
A boy wearing an Arsenal shirt sits on horseback at the festivalUlet Ifansasti/Getty
A Pasola rider throws his spear
A Pasola rider throws his spearUlet Ifansasti/Getty
Men wield machetes as a fight breaks out between supporters of rival teams
Men wield machetes as a fight breaks out between supporters of rival teamsUlet Ifansasti/Getty
A soldier holds a rifle as a fight breaks out between supporters of the two teams
A soldier holds a rifle as a fight breaks out between supporters of the two teamsUlet Ifansasti/Getty
Sumbanese men prepare a roasted pig for the feast
Sumbanese men prepare a roasted pig for the feastUlet Ifansasti/Getty
A man grills a chicken over an open fire
A man grills a chicken over an open fireUlet Ifansasti/Getty
A priest predicts the future by reading the organs of a grilled chicken
A priest predicts the future by reading the organs of a grilled chickenUlet Ifansasti/Getty
A young man prays at the tomb of his ancestors
A young man prays at the tomb of his ancestorsUlet Ifansasti/Getty
Villagers, their mouths stained with betel nut juice, perform a prayer ritual at the graves of their ancestors
Villagers, their mouths stained with betel nut juice, perform a prayer ritual at the graves of their ancestorsUlet Ifansasti/Getty
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The island of Sumba is in eastern Indonesia, between Malaysia and AustraliaGoogle