What's in a Funeral?

Tana Toraja, Eastern Indonesia

Tana Toraja is talked about a lot in recent blogs about obscure funeral traditions. They are talked about because of the way they celebrate their loved ones passing. It is quite unusual. In a TedX talk done by Kelli Swazey, she mentions the Torajans as this is part of her husband’s ancestry. They have mostly converted to Christianity by the Dutch (Ancient Origin). Even though they have been converted they still follow the same ancient funeral customs. The traditions of the Torajan people include working hard throughout their lives in order to provide for a good send off to the afterlife. This good send-off includes numerous ceremonies called Rambu Soloq (Ancient Origins).

Leading up to Rambu Soloq if the family does not have the funds to properly bury their loved ones under their standards they will hold off on burying them and keep them in a room of their house and just refer to them as ill. It takes the family a week to years to bury their loved one depending on when they get the sufficient amount of money to actually bury them. During this time when the family member is ‘ill’ they will go through the actions of feeding, caring for, and taking their loved one out of the house.







Torajans practice animism, which gives spiritual importance to objects that are not human. So once Rambu Soloq is to take place the family and friends go to a field where they will slaughter buffalo and pigs because they believe these animals have spiritual importance and can carry their loved one into the afterlife successfully where they will live on. Everyone gets a portion of the meat at their turn, even the ‘ill’ loved one. The buffalo horns are decorated in front of the house of the deceased member and if they have a lot of horns then they were rather high up in the community. On the eleventh day of the ceremony they ‘bury’ their loved one in a cave. They then will finally pass on to the ‘land of souls’ (Ancient Origins).


Holloway, A. (2014, January 24). The Toraja People and the most complex funeral rituals in the world [Web log post]. Retrieved June 13, 2018, from http://www.ancient-origins.net/ancient-places-asia/toraja-people-and-most-complex-     funeral-rituals-world-001268

Swazey, K. (2013, April). Life that doesn’t end with death. Live performance TEDMED.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *