Indonesia tribe gives corpses a makeover

AGENCIES
Published Sep 12, 2017, 5:13 am IST
Updated Sep 12, 2017, 5:13 am IST
The Torajas, from the Indonesian highlands of South Sulawesi, share a very close relationship with the dead.
A Toraja tribesman with his mother’s corpse.
 A Toraja tribesman with his mother’s corpse.

A village in Indonesia is filled with the walking dead as the Toraja tribesmen dig up the corpses of their loved ones and parade them around during an annual harvest ritual.

The Torajas, from the Indonesian highlands of South Sulawesi, share a very close relationship with the dead. They sometimes keep the mummified bodies of their dear ones in their homes for weeks or even years before burying them, the Daily Mail reported. The tribe do not view people as “dead” until after their funeral. Till then the body is washed in a formaldehyde solution and kept in a room and treated as if the person were still alive.

Every year, during a celebration called Ma’nene, the dead are reunited with their living relations. The tribe exhume the bodies, give them a haircut, dress the corpses in new clothes and even give them cigarettes. The celebration lasts three days.

The families open the coffins of the loved ones and let the bodies dry, according to the Mirror. Then they wash, groom and dress up the corpses in new clothes and take them for a walk through the village. Crying and mourning is prohibited. hence, throughout the procession they must laugh and smile.

“It is our way of respecting the dead,” a villager said, adding “There is no mourning. It is a moment of joy for us because we reunite with our dead relatives. We try to honour them and in return get their blessings for good harvest.”

It is not known when or how the ritual of the dead started as the tribe only developed a written language sometime in the early 1900s, according to National Geographic. However, recent carbon dating on wooden coffin fragments shows the practice dates back until at least 800AD and likely even further. 





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