Different cultures remember and honor their dead in various ways. Some light a candle and offer prayers on All Soul’s Day. Others troop to the cemetery on the Day of the Dead to have a picnic around the dead’s burial site. Indonesia‘s Toraja tribe, however, goes the extra mile when it comes to remembering the dead.
The Toraja tribe residing in Sulawesi Island, Indonesia, holds what they call the ‘Ma’nene’ Festival every year. This quite literally translates to ‘The Ceremony of Cleaning Corpses‘ and they have been doing it for centuries.
See, for the Torajans, it simply won’t cut it to visit someone’s burial site. In order to give the dead the respect they deserve, the Torajan tribe actually digs up the corpses to clean them up, give them new clothes, and include them in family activities and photos.
It is quite a fascinating practice that makes for very interesting and unique photographs.
It can be quite creepy when you see photos of dead babies brought to family gatherings as if they haven’t passed away yet, or when a long deceased relative appears to be enjoying a stick of his favorite cigarette brand.
Still, when you think about how much the Torajan tribe values their dead, it all makes sense.
After all, the deceased in this small community are mummified and kept in colorful, intricate coffins while the family spends months, or even years, saving up for an extravagant funeral ceremony. In the time spent saving up for the luxurious funeral, the corpse stays with the family — their family members talk to them, give them food and drinks, and bring them to family affairs, as if they are not yet dead.
The Ma’nene ritual also gives the family a chance to repair and clean the coffins where the deceased are housed, to keep them from decomposing once it’s time to bury them again.
Check out more photos of this interesting ritual in Indonesia:
Despite the rest of the country being predominantly Muslim, the Toraja tribe is actually Protestant Christian. Despite their Christian leanings, however, they still cling tight to old traditions rooted in animistic beliefs, like the Ma’nene Festival.
What do you think of the Toraja tribe’s way of honoring their dead? Would you be okay with your loved ones digging up your corpse to spend quality time with you once a year after you’ve passed? What other fascinating rituals are you aware of? Share your thoughts with us by leaving a comment below!