Tag Archives: tana toraja

A Day in the Death of a Torajan

I think it would be fair to say that if a bunch of tourists rocked up to your grandma’s funeral and started taking photos of the entire proceedings most of us would get very pissed off. However, when traveling overseas we are incredibly snap happy when we come across local funeral ceremonies. I have witnessed scrums of people in Kathmandu and Varanasi jockeying for the best spot to take a photo of a body searing over a fierce funeral pyre. I once happened upon a Tibetan sky burial at Mount Kailash and had to stop a Swiss guy from taking photos. While the participants were quite happy for us to watch the ceremony since it is part of the meditation on death at the famed pilgrimage site, I felt uneasy at the thought of a slightly sleazy old man having photographs of a dismembered teenage girl!

Bemused locals usually tolerate our strange fascination with funeral rituals but once in a while violence breaks out when travelers over step the line.

No such problems in Tana Toraja in South Sulawesi. Although the region is incredibly beautiful, featuring gorgeous mountain scenery and quaint villages, it is fair to say that the local … Read more