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Woman shouts 'this is my father' as Indonesia Death Tribe open up coffin

Tom Fenton

| Last updated 

Woman shouts 'this is my father' as Indonesia Death Tribe open up coffin


A documentary on YouTube has shown what life is like with a so-called 'Indonesian Death Cult', where families live with their deceased relatives after they pass away.

In one especially powerful scene, Fearless&Far host Mike Corey describes the moment a woman approached him to point out that the dead person in front of him was in fact her father.

The film sees Corey travel to the village of Tana Toraja, which has been dubbed the 'Land of the Dead', to discover for himself how the inhabitants grieve after loved ones pass.

For the people of Toraja, it is customary to preserve the memory of the dead by - quite literally - persevering their bodies as if they are still alive.

As Fearless&Far's documentary shows, the locals believe that after death, the soul remains in the house they previously lived in.

To prevent the bodies from decaying and rotting away during this time, they are coated in formaldehyde and water, with dried plants also kept nearby to mask the pungent odour.

The bodies are eventually buried, but in a ritual known as ' Ma'nene' ('care for ancestors'),which takes place in August every year, they are once again brought out from their graves.

The documentary captures Ma'nene first hand, where the dead are taken from their coffins, cleaned of insects and dirt, and are given new clothes by their relatives and the rest of the village.

A Torajan man holds up the skull of his relative as part of the 'walking dead' ritual. Credit: YouTube/Fearless&Far
A Torajan man holds up the skull of his relative as part of the 'walking dead' ritual. Credit: YouTube/Fearless&Far

It is during this ceremony where Corey meets the women whose Dad is being brought up from his grave for the first time since his death.

Recounting what she told him, the filmmaker says: "When they opened this coffin here, one of the ladies came over to me and grabbed me by the arm and pulled me closer and said 'this is my father'.

"She had a huge smile on her face, and she wanted me to capture the moment on film because she has not seen her father since he passed away so long ago."

Fearless & Far host Mike Corey. Credit: YouTube/Fearless&Far
Fearless & Far host Mike Corey. Credit: YouTube/Fearless&Far

Photographer Claudio Sieber, who travelled to the village last year, helps shed some light on why the locals continue with the morbid custom.

He stated via Escape: "In Toraja it is customary to feed the deceased every day and to keep the corpses cosily bedded in a separate room of the home until the family can afford a proper funeral, which easily costs 50’000 to 500’000 USD depending on the caste of the family and how may buffalos they have to sacrifice."

Moreover, many people in the village say the delayed burial helps the grieving process.

A grieving Torajan woman in the Fearless & Far film said: "My mother died suddenly, so we aren’t ready yet to let her go."

The channel's original video, titled 'LIVING A WEEK with the DEATH TRIBE of Indonesia', has racked up 4.6 million views since it was first uploaded in October last year.

In light of its new-found notoriety, Toraja has become something of a tourist attraction in recent years, with many now attending the Ma'nene ceremony.

Featured Image Credit: YouTube/Fearless & Far

Topics: World News, Crime, YouTube, Viral

Tom Fenton
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