Toraja: A Place Where Families Live in the Same House with the Dead, Give Food and Wear Them Clothes

Toraja: A Place Where Families Live in the Same House with the Dead, Give Food and Wear Them Clothes

  • Popular explorer Joe Hattab visited the Torajan people of Indonesia where the dead are not considered deceased but are seen as being ill
  • In the community, living with dead relatives in the same house, dressing them as well as providing food is a normal occurrence
  • Joe recorded a burial occasion of a family of the Toraja people which lasted for 5 days and shared his findings

Explorer Joe Hattab left netizens baffled as he shared a video documentary capturing his visit to Tana Torajan people of Indonesia where the living and the dead somewhat co-exist - a style that is seen as a custom.

His first stop was a family who lost their dad about a year ago but has not done his burial rites.

Toraja people who proudly live in the same house with their dead for years
The Torajan people of Indonesia have a very strange culture Photo Credit: Discover with Joe Hattab
Source: Facebook

Case studies of two families living with their dead

The unnamed family mummified their late dad using formalin injection, put his body in a coffin and then put the deceased in the same house with them, in a separate room.

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In his coffin, they put his valuables and dress him like a normal living human being. According to Joe, he learnt they also provide the deceased food.

The second family he visited was one in which their mum died a month ago. She was also given the same special treatment as the aforementioned deceased man.

They adorned the deceased lady in a lovely outfit and earrings and put her in a separate room pending when they are ready for a proper burial.

For the two families, their deceased are not dead but considered ill till their burial rites have been concluded.

The popular explorer covered the expensive burial of a family which lasted for 5 days and involved an array of activities outsiders may consider weird but not Torajans.

The Ma’Nene festival of the Toraja people

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For Torajans, the Ma’Nene festival is one of the most important events in their culture apart from their funerals which is regarded as one of the most expensive in the world.

According to Random Times, the Ma’Nene festival is a ritual of ancestral worship. after the mummification of their dead with natural ingredients and burying them in rock tombs, they exhume the corpses for the festival which usually occurs towards the end of August.

The festival which occurs every three years sees families dress the exhumed corpses in fresh clothes and pose for family photographs with them.

To the Torajan tribe from Sulawesi island, the culture is aimed at showing respect for their loved ones. They do not see death as a sad occurrence.

The culture often referred to as “The Ceremony of Cleaning Corpses” has been on for about a century.

Social media reactions

Lisa Kyoichi said:

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"It doesn’t stop there, we also visit the family grave to touch and pray for our ancestors bone years and years after. It was traumatizing for me to touch my great great grandparents bone even tho I’m torajan, but i grew up mainly in the city."

Sarah Hayder said:

"I read about their entire death cultural ceremonies and it was like a blank pause in my head for long. How one part is so entirely different from another making it beautiful and sometimes weird for us because it's not usual for us. There is a whole documentary on NATGEO regarding Torajan."

Gagang B. Crespo said:

"It's a bit scary but I do respect there culture I have Indonesian friends here in dubai and they said it really exists and Mr Joe Hattab and the crew thanks for this great documentary 1stime in my life I saw this kind of film amazing."

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Man plans his funeral while alive

Meanwhile, previously reported that a man had made adequate preparations for his funeral while still hale and hearty.

In a video documentary by Afrimax, the man stated that he does not want to become a burden to people after he is gone.

To achieve that purpose, the man did not only dig his grave, he prepared everything that would be used during his funeral.

The man bought enough drinks to entertain guests that would grace the event. He also got cement and bricks for the grave.


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