Why Toraja Land is choosen by tourist as a destination in Indonesia? We speak with many travelers while they are in Sulawesi (Celebes) Island and they all talked the same things. People come to Sulawesi (Celebes) Island and explore Toraja Land because they have heard many wonderful things from their friends or relatives who had been in Toraja Land, or they had visited previously themselves. And it seems, people loved the friendly people of Toraja Land, the culture and the untouched beauty of Sulawesi at most.
Toraja Land, Sulawesi is the third most popular destination in Indonesia after Bali and Java. Located 328KM north of Makassar and known for its unique culture and ancient traditions. The Sulawesi island it self offers great variety of exotic culture, natural wonders and friendly people. It is another unspoilt paradise of Indonesia. A journey to the odd world of Mysterious Toraja People is truly a rare adventure, made specially eerie by their haunting tombs, holes carved out of sheer rock faces guarded by wooden effigies that stare out across the jungle.
Entering Toraja Land is marked by the gate with the traditional house with boat-shaped roof architecture. Passing through the mountains of Kandora and Gandang on which, according to Toraja mythology, the first ancestors of celestial beings descended from heaven. The majority of the people still follows an ancestral cult called “Aluk Todolo” which governs all traditional ceremonies.
The culture of Torajan is a complex combination between ancestor worship and animistic beliefs where funeral ceremony are colorful festivals which will help the soul to pave the way into the hereafter. The main reason that Toraja is gaining popularity as tourist destination among all the travelers is because of the unique culture, the beautiful panorama, cool climate and friendly people. For many travelers, Toraja Land will be always in their mind as a land full with mystery, magic and ancient traditions. It is one of the world’s rare cultural treasures.
According to the mythology, Toraja Land known as the land of heavenly kings, and the boat-shaped houses face north in honor of the Goddes or also known as Puang Matua. The traditional house called Tongkonan are related to the ancestor who converted their boats into houses, and settle till present-day community life. They believe that the ancestors came by boats from the North and converted the boats as their houses. The houses are beautifully decorated with carvings and geometric designs. The number of buffalo horns hanged in front of the house indicate the status and wealth of the owner. Though Christianity and Islam have found converts here and modern trends have made inroads, traditional rituals remain strong, especially that of funeral rites.
The most spectacular ritual in Toraja Tribe are the Funeral Ceremony. For Torajan people, the funeral ceremony is the most important ritual in their life cycle. It is based on a strong belief that the soul of the death, travels to the land of the south and in this land they will have eternity, and they will need all the requisites of everyday life in the hereafter just like when they was alive in this world. Funeral ceremonies are festival which lasting as long as ten days with much feasting and entertainment. Animal sacrifices are made to ensure eternal life in the afterlife and to safeguard the descendants.
A funeral is a festive event for every member of the society. When the funeral is held by noble families then the ceremony will usually involve great fanfare. Buffaloes and pigs are sacrificed as an indication of status and as repayment for gifts received. This ceremony may take days, weeks, months, or even years after the actual death and the deceased is referred as a sick man until they are actually burried .
Various types of graves are located in Cliffside caves, mountain ledges or in special houses reserved for the dead. The graves in Toraja Land are made in huge rocks because of their strength and relative safety from animals and thieves. There are many of these graves in the different mountains. And some are well guarded by life-size wooden statues of the persons buried.