Sabtu, 05 Januari 2013

Tana Toraja - Land of The Heavenly Kings 1

Celebration in Every Occasion

Tana Toraja today spreads out from South Toraja Regency (Kabupaten Toraja Selatan) with its capital city Makale, to North Toraja Regency (Kabupaten Toraja Utara) whose capital is Rantepao. 
Located high up on hills, the Torajan tribes has perserved their ancestor's tradition and culture as can be seen from their houses (Tongkonan, traditional Torajan house heading to the North), their rice barn, their way of living, 


and their way of celebrating special occassion - especially burial procession (Rambu Solo') that can cost hundreds of million Rupiah, even billions! Their unique way to bury the dead comes from their belief  for thousands of years, that the Torajan's ancestor came from heaven, therefore dead bodies must not be buried , and must be placed high above the ground (in a cave, on a cliff).
Most of burial sites commonly visited by tourists are located in North Toraja Regency, just around Rantepao city : Kete Kesu, Lemo, Londa.

AND, don't forget to try Toraja specialty culinary : the Pa'piong (chicken cooked in bamboo) and Pamarasan (pork with black herb)





Getting to Tana Toraja

I heard before, there's 1-hour flight from Makassar (formerly known as Ujung Pandang) to Makale, flied twice a week, operated by SMAC ( Sabang Merauke Air Charter ) using Cassa aircarft. But I don't get detail updated information about this..the SMAC doesn't even have its own web page!
So, I chose to travel from Makassar with a rent car, and the journey usually takes between 9-10 hours - if some sources say it can be done in 8 hours, it's only theoretically ! 
Note, I heard later that executive buses departed 8 pm from Makassar is also visitors' favourite, fare is only +/-  IDR 100,000 for super executive class, and pre-booking is necessary during peak season July and December.

The journey from Makassar to Toraja can be devided into 2 phases :
First phases,  about half of the total 320 kilometers, is from Makassar to Pare-pare, reached within 4 hours with medium speed via Trans Sulawesi road which is in good enough condition : road is straight, flat, with sea view nearly all along the way. There're many seafood restaurants in this seafront city, take a break and enjoy the fresh seafood !
Second phase, is from Pare-pare to Rantepao. Since we're heading to a highland, road has many switchbacks, drivers have to be very careful and therefore the second half of the journey takes about 5-6 hours.  2-3 hours driving from Pare-pare, you'll arrive at Bambapuang village, Enrekang regency, famous for its Gunung Nona (Erotic Mountain). Stop there for a cup of black coffee , breathe the fresh cool air and calm your mind with wonderful view of the mountain, right from the cafe's terrace :

Gate of Toraja

Continuing journey from Bambapuang, there's a few panorama to enjoy along the ups and downs road. 
2 hours from that point, you'll enter South Toraja regency, and the road gets a little bit rougher until you reach Makale the capital city. All the pain you get during this long journey will be paid once you enter Toraja. 

Because the majority attraction is in North Toraja, many visitors prefer to stay at Rantepao, another 1 hour from Makale. 




Read also : Pa'piong and Pamarasan, the specialty food of Toraja 


Rambu Solo' The Procession of The Dead

Although the Torajan celebrate many things of their life's phases, but the Rambu Solo is one of the uproarious event. This Procession is held to move the dead body of a family member from his/her house to burial site. As their belief, there're certain days when the gate to heaven is opened. At those days the Rambo Solo' is held, after the dead being preserved in the house months before. 

Some family have their own cave, such as at Londa where the cave is used as burial site for Toklengke' family. Nowadays, it is common in Toraja to bury the dead not only in a cave or up the cliff on a hill, but also in a building (in a shape of a house/ a tongkonan) especially built for it - usually not far from the deceased's house. One building is used for the entire family member, as in this picture below :

Burial Building with Tau-tau
Another unique tradition is to make an effigy of the deceased (called tau-tau) and place it in front of the burial place.

Rambu Solo' has long become an attraction to visitors since it involves many rituals such as buffalo fight (Mapasilaga Tedong), and a real party that may last for days and even weeks where they sing, dance, slaughter buffalos (Ma'tinggoro Tedong ritual) and pigs, drink local wine and feasting as a form of their last salutation and respect to the person who died. Yes, it's a celebration, in line with their belief that death is not something to be fear about, but is the peak of one's life (tallu lolona). During this,  all family members, relatives, neighbors, hand in hand supporting the host not only by materially contributing to its cost, but also performing music, songs and dance to enliven the sacred celebration.

Ma'tinggoro Tedong

Wine (in plastic jerrycan) and Boars at Rambu Solo' as Gift from Relatives

Men and Women gather on a Tongkonan at Rambu Solo
Preparing for Bull Fight