5 Unique Funeral Traditions in Indonesia

Indonesia is known for its diversity of cultures and traditions. One of them is the unique funeral tradition that is carried out in different ways by indigenous people in several regions.

If funerals are usually carried out by burying the body in the ground, in fact in Indonesia there is a unique tradition of burial by burning the corpse. There are also certain tribes who put the corpse in a gummy tree hole which is considered as mother's milk or breast milk.

Here are some unique funeral traditions in Indonesia:

1. Ngaben Ceremony in Bali

Ngaben Ceremony in Bali.
Ngaben Ceremony in Bali. Photo By: Instagram@ardibebangkan

Ngaben is a funeral ceremony for Hindus in Bali. This ceremony is interpreted to release the spirit from the world, restore the Panca Maha Butha element to the universe, and as a form of sincerity of the family left behind.

The Ngaben ceremony process is usually carried out in a luxurious and grand manner. Ngaben is also equipped with decorations and accompaniment. Not only corpses are burned, objects such as statues and other offerings are also burned in the Ngaben ceremony.

2. Trunyan Funeral Tradition in Bali

Trunyan Funeral Tradition, Bali
Trunyan Funeral Tradition, Bali. Photo By: Kemenparekraf

Besides Ngaben, in Bali, Trunyan Village, which is located in Kintamani District, Bangli Regency, has a unique funeral tradition. In this village, people who die are not buried in the ground like corpses in general, but will be placed on the ground. In Trunyan's funeral tradition, the corpse is only covered with woven bamboo so that it is not visible from the outside. Surprisingly, in this cemetery there is no foul or bad smell.

According to the local community, one of the reasons is because there is a fairly large taru incense tree. This tree is believed to be able to remove all the unpleasant odors from rotting corpses.

3. The Lemo Stone Tomb in Tana Toraja

The Lemo Stone Tomb in Tana Toraja.
The Lemo Stone Tomb in Tana Toraja. Photo By: ronaldexplorer93

The Toraja tribe in Tana Toraja, South Sulawesi has a unique tradition of burying dead bodies. They keep the bodies on the cliff walls of a high hill. This stone burial place is known as Batu Lemo.

Burial is done by making holes in the stone, then carved manually. Usually one hole is filled with corpses from one family. After the hole is covered with wood, in front of it is placed a statue.

The Toraja believe that if the location of the tomb is higher, it will be closer to God. Although it seems scary, Batu Lemo is a tourist spot visited by domestic and foreign tourists because of its uniqueness.

4. Passiliran in Toraja

Passiliran, the burial of a baby's body by inserting it into a large tarra tree in Toraja.
Photo By: wanaswara.com

The Toraja people also have a unique funeral tradition for babies who have died. Passiliran is a tradition of burying a baby's corpse by inserting it into a large tarra tree.

Infants who die must be less than six months old and have no teeth. The baby's body is placed in a tree hole without using any wrapping.

How to put it is also based on the caste system. The higher the caste, the baby's corpse will be placed at the top of the tree. The tarra tree is intentionally used in this ceremony because it contains a lot of sap which is interpreted as mother's milk (ASI).

While the tree hole is considered the mother's womb. People believe that babies who have died can be reborn in the womb of the same mother.

5. Mummification in Papua

Mummification in Papua
Mummification in Papua. One of the famous mummies from the Dani tribe, Papua, Wim Motok Mabel. Photo By: Instagram@akupapuaasli)

Mummification is also carried out by indigenous people in Papua, one of which is the Dani tribe in the Jayawijaya Mountains. Mummification is the process of preserving corpses by removing moisture from the body. The mummification process is only carried out on certain bodies, such as tribal chiefs or warlords.

One of the most famous Dani mummies is the Wim Motok Mabel mummy, which means in the local language "great in war". He is estimated to be around 350 years old in Jiwika Village, Kurulu District, north of Wamena City.

Reporting from the Instagram account @akupapuaasli on Thursday (12/30/2021), the mummy will follow a number of preservation processes by drying in the sun, placing it in a cave, then smoking it for a few weeks to a month. The mummy's body fluids are drained out by a special procession.

Every five years, the Dani tribe routinely carries out a noken rope installation ceremony which indicates that embalming has been carried out in order to maintain the condition of the mummy's body so that it is better maintained.

No wonder if you look closely, you will see hundreds of noken ropes around the neck of Mummy. Not only a reminder of the past, the mummy of Wim Motok Mabel is also able to attract tourists to visit Papua.

Another mummification process is done by smearing the corpse with a certain substance, then placing it on a fireplace with the aim of being exposed to smoke. The mummification process is done by placing the corpse.

After a few years, the corpse exposed to this smoke will turn black in color. The mummified bodies are then stored in the house and will be released on certain occasions.

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