Funeral Ceremony at Tana Toraja

It may sound strange. Tourists flocking to Tana Toraja are looking for funeral ceremony to attend.

Tana Toraja Funeral Ceremony (9)

We saw an interest ‘menu’ at the local restaurant where it displayed the published dates of known funerals in the region. In many part of the world, we couldn’t predict any funeral (and also don’t want to know). In Toraja, the body of the deceased relative will be kept at the community for months or years. After the offspring and relative gathered enough money to host a funeral, the community will schedule a date (normally in the dry season) for the ceremony. This is the main reason the funeral dates are known in advance.

Funeral menu at Mambo Restaurant

There was no large ceremony this week. We dropped by the tourist information center this morning to try our luck.

Tana Toraja Funeral Ceremony (7)

We have some luck as there is a smaller scale ceremony at a village called Kandeapi.

Tana Toraja Funeral Ceremony (2)

After buying a stick of cigarette as gift to the host family, we drove our rented motorbike and heading to this village. It is a bid challenging as we are going without local guide. Luckily my broken Bahasa Indonesia helped in the journey.

Tana Toraja Funeral Ceremony (4)

We were few minutes late as all the buffalos have just been scarified (slaughtered). The left over was like a scene of the killing fields.

Tana Toraja Funeral Ceremony (8)

On the first day and last day of the ceremony, animals like buffalos and pigs will be scarified in honour of the death.

Tana Toraja Funeral Ceremony (3) 

It is also a symbol of wealth if the family can afford more buffalo. Normal cost of a buffalo is RM12,000 (USD3,000). The blue eye albino buffalo fetches higher price. Some visitors may not able to stand the slow gruesome death of the animal.

Tana Toraja Funeral Ceremony (5)

This man was washing his hand in the pool of blood, and using the blood to sharpen the knife.

Tana Toraja Funeral Ceremony (6)

After looking at the ‘ceremony’, it makes one wonder if one still enjoy the luxury leather bag or premium steak.

Tana Toraja Funeral Ceremony (1)

The meat was cut and distribute to the family members and friends. Nothing goes to waste, the bones, testicles, stomach, skin etc.

Tana Toraja Funeral Ceremony (10)

I saw this pig being killed and the internal organs removed, and then it ended up as a BBQ pork with the help of an efficient torch.

By the way, they are Christian who still keep their animist heritage. It was known as ‘Aluk To Dolo’ (way of the ancestors), according to Wikipedia. The funeral is more like a festival than sober farewell.  The funeral ceremony in Tana Toraja is one of its kind in the world.

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