In Toraja, the death of a loved one is a reason to be celebrated
Famous for their elaborate ceremonies to honor deceased people, a visit in Toraja is an exciting adventure in the mountains in South Sulawesi. Through Torajamelo you can stay in the houses of locals to feel the spirit and heart of the community as well as help to support their emerging business ventures in tourism.
MEET MERI AND THE TORAJANS
If Meri can bring the pig to every event within the community that is nestled among the mountains in Toraja the dream she has always had will come true.
One of the many weavers in the region Meri’s vision is echoed by of a lot of people in her peculiar community, whose customs would surprise even experienced travelers as an entirely different world.
Funerals with elaborate details, as well as other rituals and ceremonies have become the standard of life for the 450,000 people of the indigenous group of people also known as Toraja in this area in South Sulawesi, Indonesia.
Offerings of water buffalo and pig are the principal currency used for exchange during these celebrations as well as a strict mark of social status in the local community.
The group combines Christian faith, they were introduced by Dutch Missionaries from the beginning of 1900 along with the local religion, known as Aluk to Dolo or “Way of the Ancestors”. The community is located at 14,000 feet up the earth This mountain group remains firmly attached to its ancestral roots, which span generations.
However, in a culture that the dead get celebrated during grand celebrations and the empowering of women is a topic that has long been the backseat, is now slowly making its way into the mainstream. And I was there to experience this while taking into Toraja’s colorful tradition of culture.
Toraja has been a destination for those who are looking to travel However, the positives of tourism haven’t always been shared with the local community in general.
“Most of the agents and tour guides were from outside the region, including Bali and Makassar as well as Makassar and Bali, and the cash was not returning to the local community. In addition, the customs and stories of the community were being lost,” shares Dinny Jusuf the founder of social venture Torajamelo.
In less than a year after the official launch of the project Torajamelo is already seeing positive outcomes, with the Torajans getting a sense of empowerment due to improved economic conditions and a an appreciation of their dignity, particularly in the female population.
As I arrived for my weaving class I was greeted by weaver who initially cautious, their reticence being dissolved when they displayed their abilities.
With a cup of coffee and cubes, we overcame the barriers to communication and learned more about one another. I was amazed by how skillfully they mastered both art and technique and how sincerely they taught these techniques to their children — who then effortlessly balance their studies with this traditional weaving technique.
Dinny says Dinny, “The weavers are proud to share their heritage with guests from across the globe. They have found it beneficial to share their knowledge in financial literacy, communication and leadership abilities in a new environment. Additionally, they are able to sell directly to tourists, and earn additional income.”
A former banker from Bandung Dinny’s connection with Toraja is an intimate one Her husband is a member of the Torajan nobility, who she became acquainted and became infatuated with on one of her travels.
Being with Dinny is similar to staying with a good friend: Dinny is delighted to engage with guests under the stars of her second-floor verandah, and share intimate details of the culture that are part of toraja. Toraja community.
The secret to the success of Torajamelo has been to keep the community at its core of the mission. “As long as the community remains at the core of this venture, and we keep them involved in all our programmes, we can stay authentic,” Dinny says. Dinny.
HEAD IN THE CLOUDS
The Toraja landscape offers stunning mountains and wobbly roads that lead to fields of rice and boat-shaped ancestral homes known as tongkonan.
There aren’t any postal codes. Clans remain in compounded homes. The houses are constructed with bamboo and elevated off the ground to minimize the effects of earthquakes that frequently occur within the region.
Rice is a subsistence crop. The rice that is harvested is stored in specially designed “rice barns” — decorated and carved with traditional themes such as the buffalo or sun, telling stories by using symbols.
While on a trip planned by Torajamelo into the diverse aspects that make up the local community. Cultural dance and music performances. The workshops are visited by traditional woodcarvers, weavers, and coffee planters.
Dinny works closely with the newly-reorganized local tourism board, which recently launched The Tourism Information Center dedicated to increasing the tourism industry in Toraja in a sustainable and balanced way.
One of the things they do not would like is to draw tourists who just want to visit Toraja for the purpose of “tick boxes on their tourist trails, and have no interest in understanding the community or nature” Dinny adds. Dinny.