The Toraja are an ethnic group indigenous to a mountainous region of South Sulawesi, Indonesia. They are best known for a row of fascinating funeral rituals.
In Toraja society, the funeral ritual is the most elaborate and expensive event. The death feast is usually attended by thousands and lasts for several days.
Torajans traditionally believe that death is not a sudden, abrupt event, but a gradual process toward Puya (the land of souls, or afterlife). During the waiting period, the body of the deceased is wrapped in several layers of cloth and kept in the family home. The soul of the deceased is thought to linger around the village until the funeral ceremony is completed, after which it begins its journey to Puya.
There are three methods of burial: the coffin may be laid in a cave or in a carved stone grave, or hung on a cliff. It contains any possessions that the deceased will need in the afterlife. The wealthy are often buried in a stone grave carved out of a rocky cliff. The grave is usually expensive and takes a few months to complete. In some areas, a stone cave may be found that is large enough to accommodate a whole family. The coffin of a baby or child may be hung from ropes on a cliff face or from a tree. This hanging grave usually lasts for years, until the ropes rot and the coffin falls to the ground.
In the ritual called Ma’Nene, that takes place each year in August, the bodies of the deceased are exhumed to be washed, groomed and dressed in new clothes. The mummies are then walked around the village.
Photos: 1. and 2. showing traditional burial places. (Source 2 and Source 1) 3. One of the trees with children “graves”. These trees provide a lot of resign and are believed to nurture those “too young to die” (Source) 4. Ma’Nene Ritual (Source)
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