Living with the Dead: how Indonesia’s Toraja people deal with their dead loved ones


The Torajans are an ethnic tribes indigenous to a hilly district of South Sulawesi, Indonesia. Their populace is around 1,100,000, of whom 450,000 live in the regime of Tana Toraja (“Land of Toraja”).

The ethnic tribe treat the dead as simply debilitated, offering them food, water and even cigarettes, until the memorial service is planned, which at an expense of up to US$500,000, can take quite a while if not decades. Each one to three years, a faction will accumulate for the custom known as ma’nene, when the dead will be removed from their final resting places, cleaned and given another arrangement of garments. Family members from great distances abroad come to celebrate ma’nene, devouring, trading stories and respecting the expired.

They gain since early on to acknowledge demise as a component of life’s excursion, and when a relative passes away, as per their conventional religion – Aluk To Dolo (“method of the precursors”), which sits shockingly easily close by Christianity – they are treated as though they are wiped out (toma kula). Food, water and even cigarettes are offered to the toma kula regularly, in light of the fact that it is accepted the soul stays close to the body and longs for care.

Wrapped bodies are kept in the southernmost room of the tongkonan, the conventional Torajan house, in light of the fact that puya (paradise) lies toward that path, while toward the north is the place life is found. “The wiped out” must face west, however, in light of the fact that they are experiencing significant change.

Not until the primary day of rambu solo, the memorial service, will the family permit a body to confront south, however that could be a while, at times even decades, after an individual has inhaled their last, when the family has set aside enough cash for a decent send-off.

Up to that point, the smell of the formalin used to safeguard the carcass will be killed with dried plants put close to the body.

The Torajans

The final gasp of the main conciliatory water wild ox executed during the rambu solo function denotes the official passing of a “wiped out individual”. Furthermore, the more bison that are relinquished, the quicker a spirit will discover its approach to puya. On the off chance that none are dispatch¬ed, it is accepted the spirit will never show up.

The cost of a bison relies upon the examples on its skin, the length of its horns and the shade of its eyes, and every individual from the expired’s nearby family is required to deliver in any event one.

The expense of a memorial service – more than US$50,000 for lower ranks and maybe somewhere in the range of US$250,000 and US$500,000 for the high societies clarifies why toma kula can stay in the family home for such a long time.Deceased family members have had their bodies cleaned and redressed during ma’nene. The sight of a foreigner at the rituals causes little concern. Some participants even state it is an honour to see a bule – Westerner – during ma’nene, as it contributes to a clan’s prestige.

Some youthful Torajans feel caught by the custom, which, as indicated by archeological research, could go back over 900 years; rather than purchasing a vehicle or visiting the vacationer joys of close by Raja Ampat, they are burdened with the weight of paying for conciliatory wild oxen.

Much after the three-to five-day-long exhibition of the rambu solo function – when the perished are at last covered in a catacomb or stone grave – they are not left to find happiness in the hereafter.

Ma’nene isn’t about death, it is a festival of adoration that goes past mortality, motivated by the legend of Pong Rumasek, a tracker who found a body under a tree. He painstakingly enclosed the body by material and covered it, and by doing so was honored with good karma and a long life.

Where Is Toraja, Indonesia?

Quite a while in the past, Toraja was viably protected from standard Indonesia by the mountains of South Sulawesi. Getting to Toraja took a few days of hard walking up uneven territory to arrive at a town somewhere in the range of 200 miles north of the capital Makassar.

Today, a solid parkway makes short work of that separation, requiring just around eight to ten hours’ ride by transport. (The Torajans have a notoriety for being superb mechanics; they claim and work a large portion of the transports interfacing Makassar to their country.)

Makassar, thus, is just a short direct departure from Jakarta and Bali, helping make Toraja into a key point in any considerable Indonesia travel schedule.

Explorers land at Rantepao, North Toraja’s capital and its social community. Rantepao’s low-threw urbanity, chock-an obstruct with low 1960s-period structures and the infrequent tongkonan-style structures, rapidly offers approach to rice fields and transcending limestone tops.

The cooler climate is your lone prompt piece of information to Toraja’s rise. You’ll have to visit post focuses like Lolai to get an instinctive thought of your place in the good countries: in the mornings, the post point at Lolai feels like an island looking out of an ocean of mists.

What Sets Toraja Culture Apart From the Rest of Indonesia?

As the swamp Bugis and Makassar individuals experienced change to Islam, the Toraja figured out how to hold tight to their customary convictions — Aluk Todolo, or “the method of the precursors” — that despite everything fill in as the reason for Toraja’s way of life today.

Significantly after the mass change of most Torajans to Christianity, adherence to old Aluk Todolo propensities extremist.

The customary towns in Toraja —, for example, Pallawa — safeguard local people’s unique way of life, epitomized in the territory’s notable bended rooftop tongkonan houses. Every people group houses a solitary family or faction, who live in the column of houses confronting north; littler rice silos (alang) line the opposite side of the path.

Torajan Status Symbols

Numerous conventional tongkonan include a section of water wild ox horns, orchestrated by size. These horns are markers of status: the remainders of past penances out of appreciation for some long lost predecessor.

The individuals of Toraja — like each general public on the planet — occupied themselves with gathering superficial points of interest, aggregating and spending riches, and reproducing relatives.

Torajans use soul changing experiences to solidify their status, riches and family remaining in the public eye; no place is this more evident than in Toraja’s renowned funerary ceremonies.


  1. Pictures taken from Pinterest and Guardian

2 thoughts on “Living with the Dead: how Indonesia’s Toraja people deal with their dead loved ones

  1. Hi,

    I hope you are doing well.

    I want to contribute a guest post article to your website that may interest your readers.

    It would be of high quality and free of cost. You can choose the topic of the article from the topic ideas that I’ll send you in my next email once you approve this offer.

    Please note that I will need you to give me a backlink within the guest post article.

    Please let me know if I shall send over some amazing topic ideas?


    Lindsay Johnson

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Next Post

Secrets About Door Of Hell That Has Never Been Revealed For The Past 40 Years

Mon Jun 8 , 2020
There are places on Earth that are somewhat unpleasant, places that vibe somewhat spooky and places that are out and out appalling. The Darvaza gas hole, nicknamed by local people “The Door to Hell,” or “The Gates of Hell,” unquestionably falls into the last classification—and its evil consuming blazes are […]