The sky was already dark when our Terios cars entered the Toraja area. The car turned into a small dark street with no lighting, slowly up a cobblestone street. Soon, we entered a village with traditional houses shaped on stilts with trapezoidal roofs, and decorated with buffalo horns, which differed in number for each house.
Imagining entering a megalithic village not far from the stone graves, I feel like the hairs on my neck have been standing since I entered the Toraja area. However, all was lost when the Toraja children greeted us with an orchestra of bamboo musical instruments. They are so cute! With innocent faces, these elementary school students slickly play this traditional Toraja bamboo musical instrument.
While enjoying the tora bamboo music and the pa’gelo dance played by the children, we were treated to typical Toraja cuisine such as pa’piong, pamarrassan, katokkon sambal, and of course Toraja coffee.
Papiong is meat seasoned with spices and grilled inside young bamboo sticks. It tastes like peppers. While pamarrassan is rawon with a thick sauce like rendang. Everything is SPICY. And what made my lips melt the most was the sambal katokkon. Made with the hottest chili in the archipelago: Katokkon Pepper. I swear, I will not eat this chili again unless the prize is a car terios. *monk*
After the pa’gelo dance performance was over, we also finished our dinner which was full of sweat because of the katokkon pepper. And the horror scene immediately started, because we were going to spend the night here. In Toraja houses, Tongkonan.
Tongkonan has several types. Some are used as residences, and some are used as rice granaries. We were asked to choose where to stay. It can be in a special guest house, or under a rice barn. If we are in the rice barn, we will actually camp because we only sleep with the walls formed by cloth that support the four pillars of the barn. Since this is a highland, I chose to sleep inside the Tongkonan.
Of course I made sure that the toilet business was finished while sleeping. Because in the next door neighbor’s living room there is a corpse that has not been buried because it has not been able to carry out the solo sign ceremony. A ceremony to deliver the corpse to the wild, with the help of the ‘vehicle’ of the buffalo that was slaughtered. Not an ordinary buffalo either, it has to be a striped buffalo with long horns, Tedong Saleko. The price, which can reach hundreds of millions of rupiah, makes some Toraja people unable to slaughter.
Toraja is one of the heritage tourism destinations in Sulawesi. Many graves here are unique, such as Londa, Toraja graves in the form of caves. The bodies that have been preserved are just put in the coffin without being buried.
Not far from Londa, a tomb for adults and nobles, in the Kambira area there is also a tomb for babies. However, these babies are not just put in the cave, but buried. Buried in a tree. A large tree called the tara tree or cempeda tree is hollowed out in the shape of a box, then the baby is placed there and covered with reeds. Babies that are allowed to be buried this way are babies who have not yet grown teeth.
The philosophy is that this buried baby will grow up with its new parents in the wild, namely the tree. You can see the traces of a baby’s grave that have been around for a long time at the top of the trunk, already integrated with the tree. It no longer looks like a graveyard, just an ordinary tree.
Toraja is unique. Although now most of them have embraced the divine religion, animistic practices are still practiced. I hope that they can sort out what is good and what is not good for their current life.
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