The ceremony of cleaning corpses by the Indonesian Torajan
It’s normal for every culture to go its own way in celebrating the deceased, but in Indonesia, precisely the province of Tana Toraja, funeral rites are a little “different” from the norm. The Ma’Nene ritual is the festival of ancestor worship. When a person dies, the body is usually mummified with natural substance and buried in rock tombs. The mummification process allows the corpse to be preserved and the family can return to exhume it!
The people of Torajan proudly display their deceased relatives after exhuming them from the place where they are buried and dressing them in fine/nice new clothes in an ancient ritual meant to show respect for their loved ones.
MaNene Festival in Indonesia
Every year, the Toraja people of the island of Sulawesi in Indonesia visit the graves of their deceased relatives, exhume their remains, clean up the corpses and dress them with new clothes, then pose for family photos. The festival is known as Ma’Nene. The local church of Toraja has tried on several occasions to end the tradition, but the ancestral cult is deeply entrenched in the culture of the Torajans.
The Indonesian government has recognized this animist belief as (the way of the ancestors).
About the Torajans
Before the 20th century, the Torajans resided in a self-governed community, where they practiced animism and were relatively untouched by the outside world. In the early 1900s. They were introduced to Christianity through Dutch missionaries who first worked so hard to convert the Torajan highlanders to Christianity. When the regency of Tana Toraja was further opened up to the outside world in the 1970s, it became an icon of tourism in Indonesia.
Today, tourism and remittances from migrant Torajans have brought major changes to the Toraja highlands, giving them celebrity status in Indonesia and enhancing the dignity of their ethnic group. Torajans, who lived in highland areas, identified with their villages and did not share a broad sense of identity.
Tongkonam are the traditional Torajan ancestral houses. They stand high on wooden posts, topped with a stratified roof of split bamboo in a sweeping curved arch, and they are incised with red, black and yellow detailed carvings on the exterior walls.Tongkonam are the center of Torajan’s social life.
The acts of revenge associated with the Tongkonam are important manifestations of the spiritual life of the Toraja, and therefore all family members are encouraged to participate, as the tongkanom symbolically represents ties to their ancestors and to living and future relatives.
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