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Tana Toraja Funeral Ceremony: Rambu Solo, The Great Farewell. The land of Toraja is home to an ethnic group that has been thriving in the mountainous region of South Sulawesi for centuries. The majority of the population converted to Christianity in the early 1900s. Then, decades later, they agreed to open their doors to the outside world, and not even for a moment did the Torajans lose sight of their roots, traditions, and identity. Many of Torajan’s age-old cultural practices were handed down from generation to generation and are still actively celebrated up to this day.

A spectacular Rambu Solo Ceremony will be held on June 24-23, 2024

Toraja Funeral Rambu Solo – The Great Farewell

Aluk To Dolo, which translates to “Way of the Ancestors”, is an indigenous faith of Torajans that values life and living things as much as it highly regards death. Instead of a forever goodbye, Torajans embrace death as a completion of one’s time on earth to join their ancestors in another state of being. Departed loved ones were never gone, to begin with, nor forgotten. Thus, rather than being driven by grief, Torajan funerals are comparable to lively celebrations for everyone to participate in. Locals would call it “Rambu Solo”, where the living and the dead altogether partake in one extravagant, yet ancient, death ceremony.

toraja funeral rambu solo

A detailed chain of rituals must be completed before sending the deceased to their permanent resting place. Firstly, after wrapping the corpse neatly with a cloth, it is placed in a Torajan coffin. The coffin is typically covered with a bright red mantle decorated with silver and or golden threads, adorning the red cover with traditional patterns. Finally, a miniature version of the traditional Torajan house, known as Tongkonan, is usually built on top of the coffin. Then, large bamboos are arranged underneath the structure to support the coffin’s carrying until it reaches the tomb site, commonly located in a forest, inside a very large boulder or stone cave.

During this parade, you would see family and close relatives carry the structure on their shoulders, surrounded by a mass of people en route to the grave. Participants need to stay bright-spirited during this parade, as it is believed that a joyful ambiance would help the spirit during its journey to reach the afterlife. That is why spectators of the parade may experience a lively atmosphere, with family and relatives sometimes conversing or even cracking jokes at one another.

Buffalo Sacrificing Ritual

toraja funeral ceremony

After the Toraja funeral, the buffalo sacrificing ritual is conducted. The number of sacrificed buffalos is believed to affect the deceased’s journey to the afterlife. Therefore, there were ceremonies in the past that had families offering dozens, even hundreds, of buffalos to be sacrificed. Friends, family, and other spectators, including tourists, are each given their share of the buffalo meat as a part of the revelry. During this ceremony, attendees may also enjoy Torajan traditional music and dance performances, celebrating the parting with a feast.

These events and ceremonies are highly anticipated by Torajans and tourists. Through rituals that have been conducted since the time of their ancestors, Torajans come together in one grand festivity. They thank the spirit realm and honor a great life once lived.

Contact us for Daily Departure Toraja Tour

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