TORAJAN FEAST FOR THE DEAD

Kamis, 09 Oktober 2008


The Torajan are perhaps best known for their elaborate colorful feast for the dead offered to ensure that the soul of the dead may pass to the after world in a manner appropriate to the status they enjoyed in this world.
This feast costs a lot of money because the kin groups will often save and work for many years to prepare a suitable elaborate funeral. Visitors should be sure to contributed food, cigarettes, soap or money to assist the family.
A man is considered dead only when his funeral feast has been held. In the mean time, the deceased is regarded as merely sick and the corps is kept in the “tongkonan”. ( a series of houses arranged in a circular row around and open field), where he is fed and visited as if he were still alive. The corpse is first ritually cleansed and dressed in a fine weaving and made to sit up. After some days, it is wrapped in specially woven fabric and laid in a westward facing position.
When enough goods have been set aside to send the soul off, the funeral ceremonies are performed in two stages over a period of about a week presided over by a “tomabalu” (death specialist). Buffaloes and pigs are first slaughtered and offerings of betel nuts, fruits and “tuak”(palm wine) are made. The corpse is then moved to face north and is now officially dead. The kinfolk must observe a number of taboos, including rice fast that lasts several days, as dances and chants are performed.
Another ceremony follows, for which a pig and a buffalo are again slaughtered and the relatives wear black. The body is placed in a sandal-wood coffin, then brought out of the house and placed on an open platform beneath the granary. Meanwhile an effigy (wooden puppet) and a funeral tower (“lakian”) are prepared and a large stone is placed in the centre of the village ceremonial field (“rante”).
The second phase of the funeral takes place in the rante, decorated for the occasion with banners and funeral tower. The coffin is borne from the house and placed in the “lakian.” All the guests now arrive. Feasting, chanting, and dancing, continue through the night and buffalo matches as well as boxing matches take place during the day.
On the last day of the feast, the coffin is lowered from the funeral tower and brought up to the mountain side the family gravesite followed by great shouting and excitement. Finally its effigy is installed on a high balcony where other puppets (effigies) are already standing there representing the members of whole family.


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