The village of the dead: Families in Indonesian village keep the corpses of loved ones and treat them as if they are still alive (and even bring them food and cigarettes)
Indonesian:In the West, death is often kept out of sight and out of mind – relatives pass away in hospitals, and are buried a few days later.
But not so among the Torajan people in Indonesia, whose relatives die at home and can be kept around for years afterward.
In Torajan culture, people are not considered dead until their funerals have been held, with their families treating them as if they were sick.
The Torajan people, from Indonesia’s Sulawesi island, believe their deceased relatives are still alive until they can be given a funeral – an elaborate ceremony that can take years to save for
Their bodies are injected with a preservative called Formulin to stop them decomposing, and they are given a room in the house to ‘live’ in, the BBC reports.
Doting relatives will bring food, drink and cigarettes to the corpses twice a day, regularly wash the body and change its clothes, and even leave a pot in the corner as a ‘toilet’.
They will also speak to the body as if it were still alive, introducing visitors and asking it questions.
The corpse is never left alone, and is always kept in a lit room, for fear the spirit will start causing trouble if it is upset.
Torajan funerals are elaborate affairs, often lasting for days on end, involving relatives brought from around the world, and the sacrifice of hundreds of animals.
Until they can be given a proper burial, the bodies are kept at home with their families, and are treated as if they were sick – with visitors introduced to them
Torajan funerals can last for days, involving relatives flown in from around the world and the sacrifice of hundreds of animals – often at the cost of tens of thousands of dollars
As such, they can take an entire lifetime to save up for – so if a person dies with only a little money, their relatives may keep them around for years while they save.
Mamak Lisa, a Torajan woman who spoke to the BBC, has kept the body of her father Paulo Cirinda for 12 years.
She claims his presence has helped her deal with his passing. She said: ‘If we buried him straight away, we would also feel the pain very suddenly.
‘We wouldn’t get time to deal with the grief and adjust to the separation.’