A lot of buffalo have to be sacrificed if you are to live happily and be respected in paradise.
A lot of buffalo have to be sacrificed if you are to live happily and be respected in paradise. The souls of the dead can only go to puya when the death ritual is completed. The status of a spirit in the world beyond is the same as that of the person in this life, and so the souls of his animals must follow him into the other life. With this sacrifice the deceased will be accompanied to heaven by the souls of buffalos and pigs. The journey to puya requires strong animals because it is difficult and mountains and valleys must be crossed.
The buffalo has traditionally been the symbol of wealth and power, used even to pay for land. But the fact that so many are sacrificed in honour of the dead, in order to impress the living, has led the Indonesian government to impose limits and taxes for each animal sacrificed, as these ostentatious ceremonies end up by ruining the families.
The tensest moment in any celebration is the sharing out of the meat, and there are always disputes and even fights. What each guest receives depends on many factors. For example, if they are owed a debt, they will receive a good portion as part of the payment, the noble families that are descended directly form heaven have the right to the head, the most highly prized part, and the children receive the legs.
On the last day, in the village of Kete the atmosphere is completely different from the revelry of the first days. After three intense days of celebration, the pain and tiredness begin to show in the faces of the closest relatives.
The funeral is drawing to an end, and in just a few hours Mayanna will rest in peace, along with his ancestors, in the sacred rocks of Rantepao.
An hour later, Mayanna is taken on his final journey across the rice fields.
Mayanna’s family has reached the sacred rocks.
Right at the foot of the niche, the officiating priest says the final farewell to the dead man, reading a few paragraphs from the Bible. The majority of the Toraja are Christians, though like the Bajau, they combine their new religion with animist beliefs based on a large, complicated mythology that divides all of creation into three worlds, each one with its own god.
Mayanna has come to the end of his journey.
The coffin has been placed inside the rock, along with his most beloved belongings. Then, they seal forever the door to his new home ...and that is a funeral in the highlands of Sulawesi, the island in the shape of an orchid.