Sulawesi & Sumba / Indonesia

Indonesian funeral ceremony

During one of my visits in Indonesia I had the opportunity to join Indonesian funeral ceremony. This unusual experience I could “enjoy” on two islands (Sulawesi & Sumba). Both ceremonies were quite similar with only small differences. For sure what was the biggest difference is that ceremonies in Sulawesi Toraja are these days visited by many tourist. Therefore for me they are loosing bit of mystery and becoming a bit tourist trap. That is why experience from Sumba was for me more intense. On the photos below you can find mix of photos from these two islands.

Indonesian funeral ceremonies and burials on Sulawesi and Sumba islands has its common signs. In both cases can be ceremony delayed for decades during which the bodies of the deceased are kept in the homes of the living. This primary happen because deceased’s family need raise sufficient funds needed to cover funeral expenses.

One part of the funeral ceremony is slaughtering large number of water buffalos, pigs and occasionally horses. The more powerful the person who died than more buffalos are slaughtered at the death feast. Buffalo carcasses, including their heads are usually lined up on a field waiting for their owner, who is in the “sleeping stage”.

Some of the slaughtered animals are given by guests as “gifts” which are carefully noted, because they will be considered debts of the deceased’s family.

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