MA’NENE: The Real-life Walking Dead

The Ma’Nene rite commemorates the tie between family members – living and dead (Daily Mail).

In a society that seeks to get away from death as possible, it is strange and terrifying to see some people who cannot give up their dead, literally.  In a province of Indonesia, one can witness the “walking dead.”

The Toraja, an ethnic group indigenous people living in South Sulawesi, Indonesia has dissimilar design of choice in sanctifying the life of their family members who has died. Their funerary customs comprise a complex of beliefs and practices that may sound bizarre but refreshing on how they embrace and celebrate death so readily.

The ritual is known as Ma’Nene or the Ceremony of Cleaning Corpses. The ceremony usually happens in August every three years that commemorates the tie between family members – living and dead.

The ritual originated hundreds of years ago when a member of Toraja tribe, Pong Rumasek, found a body in the mountains. He garbed it with his clothes before laying it to rest. He claimed that his gesture of respecting the dead gotten him good fortunes.

Torajans dig their deceased, wash them and dress in new clothes (

Family members excavate the burial grounds of their deceased, wash them and dress in new clothes. Even children and babies are not exempted in the ritual. The mummies are then paraded around the village ensuing a path of straight lines. According to Ancient Origins, the Torajans believed that straight path are linked with Hyang. The soul of the deceased body must trail the route of Hyang.

The ritual originated hundreds of years ago (Daily Mail).

The Torajans held that if a person died during his travel, the family goes to where the person died and escort the deceased by promenading them back to the village. They deemed that the spirit of the dead must come back to his birthplace.

At the end rite, the dead are put back into their coffins which are replaced or mended, laid to rest for another three years before walking them back  again with the living.


Source: Ancient Origins   Daily Mail   Zimbio

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