Once every three years, a small group of Indonesians known as Torajans celebrate with the decaying bodies of their dead relatives.
The Ma’nene Festival is quite an odd event, all things considered. Translating to ‘The Ceremony of Cleaning Corpses’, the people celebrating the festival believe this ritual will get them blessings from the spirits of the dead. The bodies are dug up, cleaned, and dressed in their ‘favourite clothes’. According to Agung Parameswara, the person who clicked these photographs, this relatively unknown tradition has been an ongoing practice for more than 100 years now.
Legend has it the festival began when a hunter called Pong Rumasek found a body decaying under a tree in the hills, and believing it to bring good fortune, dressed it in his own clothes and buried it. Since then, funerals in the Torajan culture have become extremely extravagant affairs, with people saving up their entire lives for them.
Torajans also believe that the place where a body is buried has a huge significance, and should ideally be the place that the person spent most of their time. The location of burial is also often an issue that causes quarrels between families – especially if a person is buried with their partner rather than their birth family.