In Tana Toraja Death Doesn’t Mean Goodbye
You probably don’t like to think about your own death. But if your funeral would be similar to funerals in Tana Toraja, Sulawesi, Indonesia, you might want to attend your own funeral.
The people of Tana Toraja do not regard death as morbid. Instead, a funeral is a huge feast and celebration of the dead person’s life. It will be a lively affair for the whole village that traditionally goes on for days or even weeks.
People of Tana Toraja work diligently throughout life to accumulate wealth – not for worldly pleasures, but to give themselves an extravagant funeral. In many societies of the world, giving your child an expensive wedding shows your status to the world, but in Tana Toraja, it’s the funeral that does that.
When a person dies, his funeral may not take place for weeks or months – or even years. It won’t take place until enough money has been raised to give a great funeral for the dead person.
And once the funeral is carried out, the body is not buried. Instead it is placed in a cave high up a cliff with a carved wooden effigy placed outside on the wall.
Then every year in August, bodies are exhumed from their final resting places so they can be washed, groomed, and dressed in new clothing. The bodies are then walked around the village before being placed back in their resting places.
Torajans welcome tourists. They are not shy about sharing their traditions with strangers.