Live the dead in their grave

Cult of the deadStyle for Beyond

Every three years the Torajas take their dead from the graves, wash them and clothe them again. For us bizarre, for the Torajas an important ritual for the transition to the afterlife.

The Torajas are an ethnic group on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi. DRadio knowledge reporter Gero Simone spared no effort to travel to the village of Lokolemo. He wanted to experience the death ritual that takes place every three years in the village. For the Torajas it does not seem to be a problem when strangers are present at the Ma'Nene ritual. The villagers then fetch their mummified dead from the graves, wash them, clothe them and furnish them with precious grave goods.

"I just remember my childhood. I miss him. Grandfather always called us. He was very smart, a good person and very loving."
Desi, Toraja from the village of Lokolemo

Like 20-year-old Desi, other villagers also bring dead relatives out of their graves and open the coffins with face masks. A musty, musty smell spreads. Martin is currently preparing his father, carefully brushing his forehead and cheeks. For Martin, the ritual is an expression of gratitude to his father, who always looked after him with loving care. With the ritual he wants to give him back this love. Martin lays money in the grave so that his father can use it to buy cigarettes - in the afterlife, in the second life after death.

The Torajas were Christianized by the Dutch colonialists in the 20th century. Their religion is a mixture of Christianity and belief in nature. The Torajas believe that the spirit of the dead comes back to earth to help the living. For example, the dead relatives appear in a dream and give tips on which herbs will help with illness.

"If we take care of the dead, we will have a good life."
Petrus, Toraja from the village of Lokolemo

For the Torajas, the dead are so connected to life that they photograph each other with the freshly dressed dead. Quite a bizarre scene that Gero cannot get used to.

External content

This leads to external content from a provider such as Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc. If you load this content, personal data will be transferred to this platform and possibly other third parties. You can find more information in our privacy policy.

External content

This leads to external content from a provider such as Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc. If you load this content, personal data will be transferred to this platform and possibly other third parties. You can find more information in our privacy policy.