The common saying is that there are only two things that you can guarantee in life, death and taxes. The way we are taxed can vary from region to region, but death is always the same. The way we mourn or celebrate a life certainly does vary from culture to culture. The Toraja district of Indonesia’s South Sulawesi Province has a tri annual ritual that would amaze many, especially those from western cultures. Held every three years, usually in August, the members of a village exhume the corpses of dead relatives for part of a ritual known as Ma’nene. The Indonesian walking dead ritual should not be confused with a Zombie apocalypse, but is a tradition in the community that has stretched back many generations.
When a person has died in the Toraja district the surviving members of the family will hold an elaborate funeral. The body will be mummified and preserved. Wealthier families will bury their dead in stone graves carved out of cliffs, while poorer families will bury their loved ones in caves. Much like the mummies of Egypt, they are buried with personal belongings. Every three years the family members will exhume the bodies, wash them and ten change their clothes. After this they will proudly parade their loved one through the streets. Once they have completed this ritual the bodies are reburied for another three years. The deceased person can go on for hundreds of years in this cycle of walking dead.
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Why do the Toraja people of Indonesia have a walking dead ritual?
Simply put, they attach great importance to the death of a family member and believe that, even after death, the person is still with them. All of this in what is a majority Christian region.
While many may think that this is a barbaric tradition, no one should judge what one culture does based upon what is accepted in their own culture.