The Ma’Nene Festival: The Dead Return To Visit Their Loved Ones
Indeed, all cultures have their own way of celebrating there ancestors who have passed away, but in Indonesia, in the province of Tana Toraja in Indonesia, funeral rites are a little more “different” from what is generally practiced. The Ma’Nene Festival.
The Ma’Nene ritual is the festival of ancestor worship. When a person dies, the body is mummified with natural ingredients and buried in rock tombs. The mummification process allows the preservation of the corpse and allows the family to take them out.
The Torajan people proudly display their dead relatives after exhuming them and dressing them in new clothes in an ancient ritual that is meant to show respect and pay homage for their loved ones.
The festival, which has no fixed date, usually takes place towards the end of August, and allows people to revisit their loved ones.
Every three years, the tribe from Sulawesi island exhume their dead, who they wash and dress in fresh clothes and then pose for family photographs. The ritual, which translates as “The Ceremony of Cleaning Corpses,” has been in peactice for more than a century.
Here, death is understood not as sad or fearful, and the exhumation of mummies is a way to connect with death and, in some way, transcend it.
Dust and debris are removed from the mummies, and then the bodies are dressed again. Significant personal items, like this mummy with glasses, are left in their place.
One of the most important events in the lives of the Torajan people is the funeral and most people save money their entire lives so they can have a respectable burial for themselves or family members.
In some cases the deceased’s funeral is held several weeks or even years after their death so the family can have time to save up and pay for a respectable funeral.
But the burial ceremony is never the last time their loved one is seen. Whenever a villager dies, their body is wrapped in several layers of cloth to prevent decay.
Many people are afraid to inhale the dust of corpses and wear protective masks.
A photographer in Indonesia who specializes in documenting the rites with which people of different cultures face and celebrate death. This festival may seem decidedly macabre, but for the inhabitants of Tana Toraja it is a sincere expression of a love that even death cannot defeat.
The photographer narrates: “For the villagers it is a sign of the love they still share for those who have died, but who are still spiritually present. It is a way of showing them respect by letting them know that they are still active members of the family, and continue to play an important role in the local society”.
Most people in the world would think that this is a fearful image to behold, but for the inhabitants of Tana Toraja these are still the faces of their beloved relatives.
In the Torajan belief system, death is not a final step, but just one step in an ongoing spiritual life.
Torajan people believe the spirit of a dead person should always return to their village of origin, a belief which has deterred the major part of villagers from ever leaving their home in case they die while on the journey and their body cannot be back at home.
If a villager dies away from home, family members often venture to the location and carry the body home.
The Ma’Nene festival might seem strange, but it is a way to not demonize death and to assure the dead a role in society even after their departure.
Source: Random Times