TANA TORAJA: THE MOST COMPLEX FUNERAL CEREMONIES IN THE WORLD
Tana Toraja is a highland region in the Indonesian province of South Sulawesi, best known today as an exotic destination for cultural tourism. It is a landlocked regency and it is famous for the Torajan homes (Tongkonan) and traditional funeral ceremonies. For the Toraja people, life very much revolves around death, but not in a morbid sense. For them, a funeral is a great celebration of life, much like a going-away party, and is an occasion in which the entire family of the deceased, and all the members the village take part. Their ancient traditions involve funerary customs that have been practiced over many centuries and are known to be the most complex funeral traditions in the world.
Kete Kesu is one of the most famous tourist attractions in Tana Toraja. It is one of the best examples of a traditional Torajan village. The village is more than 300 years old and is classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The village has 6 Tongkonan, which are the traditional buildings owned by Torajan nobles where the dead ancestors are kept. Another Torajan burial ground is Londa. Though there are actually two funeral sites at Londa. It is similar to both Lemo and Kete Kesu. The first site has cliff burials, where tombs have been dug out of the cliff face. The second site has two caves where corpses are buried. Torajans believe that the dead can take their possessions with them to the after life, the effigies are usually equipped with small possessions. Tau tau are a type of effigy made of wood or bamboo. They are particular to the Toraja ethnic group in South Sulawesi, Indonesia. The word "tau" means "man", and "tau tau" means "men" or "statue". Tau tau are believed to have originated in the 19th century. They were once produced only for the wealthy, to reflect the status and wealth of the deceased. The tau tau are representatives of the deceased, ever-guarding the tombs and ever-protecting the living. Other than that, you can also visit Bori Parinding, a megalithic funeral site that is a combination of burial site and ceremonial ground. You can see the ceremonial ground from the main road. There are more than 100 menhirs (standing stone pillars) at the site. The pillars are supposed to celebrate an action by the dead nobles who are buried at the site. Immediately to the left of the ceremonial ground is the burial ground where tombs are still carved out of rock. Behind the site away from the road is a modern cemetery. Bori Parinding has cultural significance for Torajans. Ceremonies and rituals for the Torajan dead are held at the site. When you are in Tana Toraja, don’t forget to taste one of the best coffee in the world, Toraja Coffee.