September 2, 2018 § Leave a comment

Ma’nene: When Death is Not The End

As a country with numerous ethnicity and culture, there are various festivals celebrated in Indonesia and one of the most unique that can’t be found anywhere else in the world is the Ma’nene ceremony.

  Held every three years by the Toraja community in Rinding Allo district, North Toraja. Ma’nene is the ceremony to clean and change the clothing of deceased family members.

  According to Lempo Poton resident, Jonathan Sambara, 38, Ma’nene, which means visiting the grave in the Torajan languange, starts with a meeting with the village chief and residents to set a suitable date, usually after the rice harvest season.


The atmosphere in the village of Lempo Poton, Rinding Allo, North Toraja

The ceremony starts with the opening of the coffin after it was taken out of the grave before the body, which has been preserved, is dried using fine brushes.

  “The body is dried for a whole day to ensure it is in ‘fresh’ and clean condition before it is given a new set of clothes that were specially bought for the ceremony,” said Sambara.

  He said for the Toraja people, a funeral, cost more than a wedding as they consider it more important for the community.


The coffin was taken out from the grave after three years during the Ma’nene ceremony


Family members clean coffins from dust before it been taken out.


The process of arrangement and counting the coffins after being removed from the grave


The coffin was taken out from the grave after three years during the Ma’nene ceremony


The process of arrangement and counting the coffins after being removed from the grave



The coffin is removed from the pit to be dried before wearing a new outfit


Family enjoy ‘Ba’Piong’, a food from smoky bamboo during the Ma’nene ceremony

“The more financially secure a family, the more it would cost because they also had to sacrifice cows and pigs for a feast for the villagers,” said Sambara.

  For Lempo Poton village chief, Ruben Limbu, the 1,066 villagers, the majority of whom are farmers and Christian Protestants, still organise the ceremony because they still holds to the customs and practices of their ancestors, who previously practice the Aluk To Dolo religion.


Wife, Ludiah limbong wipe her late husband head, Daniel Seba Sambara after coffin well opened


Grand daughters take the opportunity to take a selfie with the body 


The body was sunbath and cleaned using a soft brush


A man holds a portrait of one of his deceased family members


Villagers involved in cockfighting games as a festival gathering in conjunction with the Ma’nene ceremony


After sunbathing, the body is restored in the grave for a family visits on the next day


Family members cleared the bodies using a soft brush

“The difference now is that we organise the Ma’nene ceremony only as a custom by opening the grave and cleaning the body without the worship ritual like our ancestors,” he said.

  For Ludiah Limbong, the wife of the late Daniel Sambara, the ceremony is like a reunion with her husband after a three years separation and the happiness can be clearly seen on her face during the ceremony.

  “This is a day that I have been waiting for when I can meet my husband again and all family members returned to gather and meet with Daniel.”

  The ceremony ends with the whole community gathering for a feast which is contributed by the family members who conducted the Ma’nene ceremony.


Family members clean and change new clothes to deceased family members


The portrait of late Daniel Seba Sambara is placed next to his grave


Yohanis Kombok Sambara smoothed her father’s body, Peter Sampe Sambara


The son, Jonatan Sambara, took his father around the grave to be sunned and cleaned


The corpses issued with new clothes after three year


 Family members kissed and hold hands of their loved one


Family having rest and chattering during the Ma’nene ceremony


They talked and wipes their deceased family members


The body is tied to dried and cleaned in the Ma’nene ceremony


Family members give flowers to a corpse as a gift during the Ma’nene ceremony


The wife, Ludiah limbong hugged the body of his late husband, Daniel Seba Sambara before they putting back his body in the grave.


The grave where the corpse was restored after being cleaned and left opened until the last day of the Ma’nene ceremony.

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