A few decades ago a film called “Mondo Cane” was released in Italian cinemas. As the name suggests, the film was a kind of documentary of the strangest and most shocking customs that exist in various human cultures.
Surely the Toraja population in Indonesia would have had a place of honour in the aforementioned film, as it is one of the most particular practices, and we add macabre, funeral rites on the planet. In fact, the Toraja every year decide to exhume the bodies of their deceased loved ones, dress them and wash them as if they were still alive, complete with a procession that carries the dead around the houses and streets. This rite is called Ma’Nene.
In the Toraja cult the funeral rite is considered an extremely important moment, as it allows the soul of the deceased to reach the land of Puya, a sort of paradise where the spirit of the dead will be able to decide whether to continue to carry out various activities as when he was alive; through the means and tools donated by relatives and friends during the funeral, or continue his spiritual journey and become a deity. If the dead man’s family cannot afford a proper burial, the risk is that the deceased will not be able to complete his journey, transforming himself into a Bumblebee, a sort of evil spirit enemy of the living.
This explains why the Torajans believe that the dead are not really dead but are in a sort of “rest” and for this reason every year they decide to take them around the street, arranged and perfumed as if they were still alive and with lots of onlookers and relatives taking photos to capture the moment.