Toraja's Rambu Solo Farewell Ceremony
Indonesia encompasses at least 300 ethnic groups, each with their own set of customs and distinctive cultural differences. Within this cultural melting pot there are some extraordinary and unique cultural experiences, more so in the more remote corners of the archipelago.
Impact Adventures is developing tours to remote Indonesian communities that highlight some of the lesser-known cultural experiences and areas of distinct cultural and heritage significance.
The Togean Islands in Central Sulawesi are home to some of the last remaining authentic Bajau Laut people: sea nomads or sea gypsies. As a nomadic tribe, the Bajo tribe is estimated to have arrived and entered the waters of Sulawesi and the Togean Islands in the 14th century.
Traditionally, the Bajo Tribe lived on boats, but now, with their nomadic life limited, live in wooden houses on stilts over the sea along the island's coast, living off the fruits of the sea, fishing using traditional methods, free diving and spearfishing on the abundant reefs here, with no diving equipment.
Toraja is a land-locked region in South Sulawesi where locals live in traditional houses called Tongkonan. Here, in this remote corner of Indonesia, is one of the nations’ most intriguing cultural celebrations, the Rambu Solo celebration of death.
Preparation for Rambu Solo takes months, and involves the construction of a Melantang, a ceremonial village where the deceased are held during the event. As the day finally unfolds, the body is paraded around the ritual location before being placed in a Lakkian, a small Torajan house, where they are visited by friends and family for a couple of days, bearing gifts and sacrificial livestock which are then killed in a ceremony called Mantunu, and distributed to the family of the deceased and guests.
Sumba is in Eastern Nusa Tenggara, a vestige of one of the last surviving megalithic cultures on the planet. The region was identified for centuries as a source of sandalwood, slaves, and horses as well as a land of cannibal tribes, and today is renowned for its sculptured megalithic tombs, war game rituals and intricate textiles.
In the Riau province of Sumatra, take a tour of the remnants of the ancient Srivijaya empire at the Muara Temple complex, the remains of a maritime and commercial kingdom that flourished between the 7th and the 13th centuries. The Srivijaya Empire stretched from Malaysia in the north to Java, with its centre in Sumatra, and this temple compound it’s its centre is said to be home to the oldest university in the world.
The province of Nias is comprised of a long string of islands on the west coast of Sumatra, with more than half the coastline consisting of white sandy beaches and some of the best surfing in the world. In South Nias, in Bawomataluo Traditional Village, you can experience an ancient culture that dates to prehistoric times. The village is located on a hill 400 metres above sea level, reached by 77 stone steps.
The traditional houses here are built without the use of nails, and so well designed they can withstand earthquakes. Inside you’ll see elaborate wood carvings, which show the status of the owner, and the exposed rafters above you are adorned with the jaws of pigs that were sacrificed for a workers feast at the time the house was built.