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This is one of the creepiest and most fascinating real-world stories you’ll read today: in the Indonesian village of Toraja, the locals believe that zombies are a part of everyday life… and that it’s not necessarily a bad thing to become one.

Oddity Central uncovered an account from a few years back about the funeral practices of Toraja, where certain individuals are believed to possess the magical ability to make the dead walk, and how this is seen as a beneficial practice: according to tradition, a person must be buried in the village where they were born, and if that doesn’t happen, these reanimation specialists may help the dead walk back to their proper resting place. This skill may also come into play if there is a lengthy delay between a person’s death and their final burial ceremony, which is often an elaborate and expensive process; once the family has made the proper arrangements, the deceased can then be raised again to walk from a temporary grave to a permanent one. X

In truth, the dead are not really walking. This is a ceremony called the Ma’nene, when families bring their dead out of the house where they are kept (often for years, because they need the time to raise the money for the extremely expensive funeral), they dress them up and take “family photos”. How these mummies stay standing up without very little external support is anybody’s guess but the whole ritual is very fascinating.

In Toraja society, the funeral ritual is the most elaborate and expensive event. The richer and more powerful the individual, the more expensive is the funeral. In the aluk religion, only nobles have the right to have an extensive death feast. The death feast of a nobleman is usually attended by thousands and lasts for several days.

Torajans traditionally believe that death is not a sudden, abrupt event, but a gradual process toward Puya (the land of souls, or afterlife). During the waiting period, the body of the deceased is wrapped in several layers of cloth and kept under the tongkonan. The soul of the deceased is thought to linger around the village until the funeral ceremony is completed, after which it begins its journey to Puya.

Another compononent of the ritual is the slaughter of hundreds of animals (water buffalo, pigs, chickens), because Torajans believe that the dead can use them as a staircase to make their journey to the afterlife. They often sell everything they own just to purchase the things they need to bury their family members because they believe that their dead watch over them. That is why most torajans are poor.

More pictures of the “dress up” ritual here

And a video of the same ritual here
WARNING: shitty camera angles will make your neck hurt :)

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