Where: Indonesia, Sulawesi, Tana Toraja, Pangala
Religion: Christianity (Protestantism and Katolicism) mixed with animism
In some places the Ma’nene ceremony is held every year and in other places every second or third year – and only when the rice has been harvested. The families gather and walk to the family graves where they bring out their dead ancestors, clean them and dress them up nicely in new clothes and dry them in the sun. Before they are put back, the family members are having pictures taken with them.
The people of Toraja explain that the ritual is based in an old myth about a man who was trekking in the area. On his way he found a dead person. He swept the dead in his own clothes and then buried him. After that, happiness smiled upon him.
Yohannis (78) is posing with his wife, Martha, who died in 2015 at the age of 72. The couple were married for around 50 years, and they have 13 children.
Tulak (55) is posing with her father, Dongga, who died in 2006 at the age of 78. Tulak travelled from Malaysia to participate in the ritual. She got very sad during the ritual, but at the same time, she was happy to see her family. She told me that the ritual brings families together.
Abigail (37) is posing with her mother, Lince, who died in 2015 at the age of 58. It was the first time the Ma’nene ritual was practised with Lince, and Abigail was both happy and sad to see her again. It is customary not to cry during the ritual and Abigail went a little away to shed some tears.
Jimmi (8) is posing with his unnamed brother who died in 2013, 3 days after birth.
Ruslin (30) is posing with her daughter, Ditha, who died suddenly four years ago at the age of 1 (according to Ruslin). Ruslin didn’t feel like seeing Ditha until now. She was sad and didn’t feel that she had the strength to do the Ma’nene with her earlier. After the ritual, she told me, that she was very happy, that she did it.