Sequence of a family in Tana Toraja cleaning and dressing the mummy of their grandfather, Ma'Nene ritual.

The Meaning of Death Behind the Ma’nene Ritual Tradition

One of Interesting traditions in Tana Toraja which has become a popular tourist attraction for local and foreign tourists is the Ma’nene tradition. Ma’nene tradition is a tradition of remembrance of ancestors by cleaning and replacing the corpses of the ancestors of the Tana Toraja community. This tradition is specifically carried out by the Baruppu people who live in the interior of North Toraja.

For people in the Baruppu region, corpses or bodies of relatives are an inseparable part of living family members. In addition, the Baruppu community has the belief that even though the bodies have died, the spirits of the ancestors remain “alive” and supervise their descendants from other realms.

Therefore, every 3 years or around August when the harvest is over, “cleansing” is carried out on the bodies or bodies of their relatives. The trick is to remove the “mummy” of the body from the chest to be cleaned and replaced with new clothes. Not only are they dressed in new clothes, the bodies of these ancestors are also dressed neatly as if they were going to attend a party.

Sequence of a family in Tana Toraja cleaning and dressing the mummy of their grandfather, Ma'Nene ritual.
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Sequence of a family in Tana Toraja cleaning and dressing the mummy of their grandfather, Ma’Nene ritual.

The crates containing the remains of these ancestors were removed from the rock mountain. Then, the remains of the ancestors who were in the chest were also issued while accompanied by the recitation of prayers in the Old Toraja language. After being removed, the corpse was removed and cleaned from head to toe using a clean cloth.

After cleaning, the body was dressed up, dressed in new clothes, then erected. The corpse’s family usually holds, sets up, and keeps the corpse from touching the ground because it is a taboo in this tradition.

They put new clothes on the mummy! via @toraja_lands
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They put new clothes on the mummy! via @toraja_lands

Uniquely, the bodies of the ancestors of the Toraja people can stand upright and walk like they are still alive, you know. This is believed to occur because prayers and mantras are offered by elders and traditional leaders before the tradition begins.

Don’t try to touch a dead or walking corpse. If the body that is standing or walking is touched, the spell or hypnotic effect will disappear and the body will fall. In addition, the person who touched the corpse to fall was the person who was obliged to wake the body back to its original position. The tourists present in this tradition will usually be strongly reminded by the traditional elders who lead this tradition.

The Meaning of Death Behind the Ma’nene Ritual Tradition
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The Meaning of Death Behind the Ma’nene Ritual Tradition

Then, where did these bodies go? The Tana Toraja people believe that the bodies of these ancestors will walk back to their homes. When you get home, these bodies will lie down as usual.

For this unique culture, we should be proud. The reason is, most foreign tourists are very interested in seeing this “mummy” tradition which is often considered impossible. It is said he said, like seeing the series The Walking Dead in the real world! If you want to see this tradition directly, make sure you come to Tana Toraja around July-August.

So you want to visit Toraja and see Ma’nene Ritual Tradition by yourself now! via @hexenkult
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So you want to visit Toraja and see Ma’nene Ritual Tradition by yourself now! via @hexenkult