Life & Dead in Tanah Toraja

Elaborate rituals for the deceased

Chances are quite high that you will come across a burial ceremony during your travels in Tanah Toraja. These ceremonies take place throughout the year, although a higher number is expected during that period of the year with less agricultural activity, from June to September. Even smaller death ceremonies are quite fascinating to attend, but the bigger ones are truly grand staged events, with thousands of guest, revealing an intricate web of family ties, reaching to far away islands. They involve food, lodging and entertainment of all those who attend (including casual visitors like you). The deceased can never truly rest before his soul has entered Puya, the Torajan afterlife. This impossible without all rites related to burial are appropriate performed in accordance with ancient old traditions.
Invariable the burial and the ceremony that goes with it, will take place long after death - in view of the enormous preparations and financing of the event and the need to assembly relatives from as far as Jakarta. When all things are in place - the temporally shelters for invited guests built around a dedicated field, platforms holding the coffin during the whole event erected - the ceremony will take place over at least seven days and in several stages. It will involve ritual dancing, praying sessions, kick boxing and buffalo fighting and, finally, as a bloody and blood-letting climax, the ritual slaughtering of a high number of buffalos... Special attention will be given to the graves, as the deceased are usually buried in holes of a rock-face.