TORAJA

Miguel Candela

 

The Indonesian ethnic group Toraja is well-known for their elaborate funerals. Despite being mostly Christian (when Indonesia is a country predominantly Muslim), they have adhered to old traditions whose roots trace back to animistic beliefs. Death is at the centre of Torajan social life. When a relative die, the body is kept in the house. After it has been embalmed, the deceased is still given food and drink. They treat the dead as merely sick. The traditional funerals called ‘Rambu Solo’ can cost a fortune and put families in jeopardy. In order to save enough money and afford a proper send-off, families keep the bodies of their relatives for years and “live” at home with them. Unsurprisingly, Toraja people and the dead coexist as part of the daily life routine since, at some point in their lives, a family has had someone “sick” (‘Toma Kula’) in their household.

 

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