Living with the dead

Indonesia’s Toraja people keep their dead relatives or dead family members in their homes, treating them as if they were alive.

WARNING: Before you start reading or visualizing the photos it may scare you but this is the ritual of Indonesia which is uncommon for the rest of the world as the family members living with the dead.

After somebody dies, it might be months, sometimes years, before a funeral takes place. In the meantime, the households keep their bodies in the home and look after them as if they have been sick. They’re brought meals, drink and cigarettes twice a day. They’re washed and have their garments modified regularly. The dead also have a bowl within the nook of the room as their “rest room”.

Dead Granny

Moreover, the deceased are by no means left on their very own and the lights are at all times left on for them when it will get dark. The families worry that if they do not care for the corpses correctly, the spirits of their departed family members will give them trouble.

Historically, special leaves and herbs have been rubbed on the body to protect it. However nowadays, a preserving chemical, formalin, is injected as a substitute.

It leaves a strong chemical reek within the room.

Whereas death is typically treated with a joyless outlook in Western tradition, the exact opposite is true for Indonesia’s Toraja people.

For them, dying just isn’t one thing to dread and keep away from, however a central a part of living that involves honoring the deceased with the utmost care to help their passage into the afterlife.


Funerals are main celebrations that take years of preparation. In the meantime, the dead bodies stay in their family homes. Their family members change their garments, give them meals and water daily, and swat the flies off their rotting pores and skin.

Who are Toraja?

Toraja individuals are of Christian religion and a few are Muslim, animism — a perception that non-human entities, similar to animals, vegetation, and even inanimate objects possess a non secular essence — continues to be very much a part of their tradition.

Extra importantly, Torajans hold onto the belief that their earliest ancestors have been heavenly beings who descended to Earth using a divine stairway.

Most Torajans stay in small villages related only by dirt roads within the Sulawesi highlands. The villages are identified for his or her distinct homes generally known as tongkonan. The buildings sit excessive on stilts with sweeping saddleback roofs and ornate carvings.

These homes perform as the meeting point for nearly all aspects of Torajan life, which is highlighted by the significance of family connections. From governmental affairs to weddings and spiritual ceremonies, the tongkonan is the point of interest of custom in Toraja tradition.


 In the Toraja myth, the ancestors of Torajan individuals got here down from heaven using stairs, which have been then utilized by the Torajans as a communication medium with Puang Matua, the Creator. The cosmos, in line with Aluk, is divided into the upper world (heaven), the world of man (earth), and the underworld. At first, heaven and earth were married, then there was a darkness, a separation, and at last the sunshine. Animals stay within the underworld, which is represented by rectangular house enclosed by pillars, the earth is for mankind, and the heaven world is situated above, covered with a saddle-shaped roof. Different Toraja Gods embrace Pong Banggai di Rante (god of Earth), Indo’ Ongon- (a goddess who could cause earthquakes), Pong Lalondong (god of death), and Indo’ Belo Tumbang (goddess of medication); and different population is Christian, and others are Muslim.

Dead body

The earthly authority, whose phrases and actions should be cleaved to both in life (agriculture) and demise (funerals), is known as To Minaa (an aluk priest). Aluk is not only a belief system; it’s a mixture of regulation, faith, and behavior. Aluk governs social life, agricultural practices, and ancestral rituals. The details of aluk might differ from one village to a different. One common law is the requirement that demise and life rituals be separated. Torajans imagine that performing demise rituals would possibly destroy their corpses if combined with life rituals. The two rituals are equally essential. During the time of the Dutch missionaries, Christian Torajans were prohibited from attending or performing life rituals, but were allowed to perform demise rituals. Consequently, Toraja’s demise rituals are still practiced at this time, whereas life rituals have diminished.

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