One of the four major ethnic groups in South Sulawesi, Indonesia, inhabits the mountainous region of this continent. They are called as Toraja and it is derived from Buginese language term to riaja, means “people of the uplands”. Then in the Dutch colonial era, these people are named as Toraja.

The Toraja people are renowned for its elaborate life cycle rites and ceremonies, as rambu tuka for ritual parties held with joy and happiness. Such as after successful harvest, celebrate the new baby born, and other gratitude expressions to god.

Aside of rambu tuka, rambu solo is a more somber affair. It is associated with the period of mourning and death. And it is as an expression of sadness of families and extended relatives before delivering the descended ones to the grave in a stone hole or natural caves. Rambu solo in Toraja people life is respected as the most significant event in a life cycle. It is believed, in traditional belief, that this grand ritual ceremony is the beginning of after life. During this celebration, the families and extended relatives are glorying the descended ones to reach puya, the dreamed heaven.

Remembering the importance of this event, the preparation and implementation periods are very well considered. Each procession must be conducted in most perfect ways. There is no room for any failures. Tens, even hundreds, of chosen livestock such as water buffalo, pigs, and chicken are sacrificed and to be served to the families and guests. The sacrificed animals are referred as the way to simplify the paths of the descended ones to puya. The traditional fellows believe that these animals are the vehicles of the death to reach heaven.

In this photo stories, I acknowledge this belief into long exposure techniques. The chosen way is to provide description on this grand ceremony of rambu solo. The objective is to present and portray the moving rambu solo in order to represent my opinion on the changing way of life and ritual procession indirectly.

By applying this photographic technique, the blurred people who take contributions in rambu solo ceremony are represented as the spirits who had been in the heaven, and they are return to the earth to welcome and assist their families in the way to heaven. The returning spirits are also celebrating rambu solo in their way of participation to the ceremony. And they are playing the same function and role when they were alive.

 


 

Generally, even there are differences of each adat area in Toraja, the first procession during rambu solo is ma’palao, transporting the death from the tongkonan (traditional house of Toraja) to the main construction (alang) in the middle of ceremony venue. It is represented as the core focus of series of processions during rambu solo ceremony for the beloved ones.

 

After the procession of ma’palao, the temporary stairs will be put down. The uniqueness of the whole processions of rambu solo is the activities are conducted in communal works.

 

In delivering their mourning expressions, the visiting guests will be in group. Among them, the contributed animals will also paraded with the guardian called as pa’kambi. These animals will be slaughtered and distributed to the guests, families, and church.

 

When the group of guests enter the venue, they will be escorted by dancers as called as ma’randing, a war dance. It is the representation of the glorious life of the descended ones. The dancers will shout loudly to encourage the spirits of the people during rambu solo ceremony, they will escort the guests to the designated spaces (alang) for the guests.

 

The ma’randing dancers with the guests will walk around the rambu solo venue to be escorted to the main building first to be served by the families. Then they will walk to the alang as their places during the ceremony.

 

After the guests are in the main building, the groups of women will walk in line with some drinks, snacks, cookies, tobaccos, and betel nuts. These women walk around the venue to the main building.

 

The main duty of these women is to bring light meals, hot drinks, tobaccos, and betel nuts to the guests while attending the ceremony. In modern life, they are booked for their services.

 

The procession of rambu solo is usually accompanied with ma’badong dance. The dancers will form a circle and start to enchant the stories of human beings relationship with the surrounding environment, and the harmony of human beings with their ancestors.

 

The enchanted verses of ma’badong are usually about the stories of the descended one during life. With a slow and similar movement, the dancers sings those lyrics harmonically.

 

The ma’badong dance is performed each time the guests group enters the main venue of rambu solo. The dancers will gather around in circle form near the main building and start to dance while singing the lyrics.

 

The contributed animals from guests will be slaughtered and the meats will be distributed to families, extended relatives, churches, and incoming guests.