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Ancient ritual in Indonesia's Toraja connects the living and the dead

Friday, September 29, 2017 - 01:13

The people of Indonesia's Tana Toraja gather for a four-day Ma'nene celebration that connects the living and the dead. No reporter narration.

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(ROUGH CUT - NO REPORTER NARRATION) In the heart of Indonesian highlands of Tana Toraja, families dig up coffins of their ancestors that were once buried in caves, in preparation for the four-day Ma'nene celebration. The people of Tana Toraja, or "the land of Toraja", are mostly Christian, but adhere to old traditions that trace their roots back to spiritual beliefs. Once every few years, or once a year, depending on the family, relatives gather to visit their deceased family members, clean their remains, and replenish the coffins with personal belongings. Unlike many other cultures, the relationship with a loved one doesn't end at the grave. "This is how we show our love," said Yosephina Tomane, who was there to honour her sister-in-law, Fransina Minanga, a teacher who passed away six years ago. The teacher is said to be in a "good condition", something the family is proud of, as her teeth are intact on her dusty skeletal remains. Once someone dies, they are mummified and housed in ornate, colourful coffins and spend several months or even years in their own homes before receiving a funeral and burial. Relatives talk to the deceased, offer them food and drink, involve them in family gatherings - as if still alive.

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Ancient ritual in Indonesia's Toraja connects the living and the dead

Friday, September 29, 2017 - 01:13