I was told about a special ceremony that takes place in the Kaharingan Hindu religion, a specific type of Hindu practiced by the Dayak people of Indonesia. The ceremony is called Tiwah. It's a ritual when they dig up the bones of their relatives and place them in a little "house" called Sandungs (which you saw photographed in my first post). Apparently, these ceremonies don't take place too often because they are very expensive, so I was lucky to find out about one. Now this ceremony has many different parts to it and lasts about a week. I saw the first part....
It started on Friday after school. My co-worker, Ms. Andin, took me out with her boyfriend, Tampung, who is part of the Kaharingan religion. He took me to their "church" which is called Balai Kaharingan. His father is a Basir (priest) there and gave me permission to photograph the event. He showed me the offerings that they give to the Gods and spirits of the deceased. He also performed a ritual on me that gets rid of any bad spirits. Here's a pic of that.
After this, they started the official Tiwah ceremony. This starts with all of the women doing a special dance around these large poles decorated with traditional garments called Batik. The men are playing ceremonial drums. This dance goes on for quite a bit. They have to go around at least 7 times, I think, or until they are tired. They probably went around for about an hour. Each time they go around, they're either anointed with a special oil mix, have a special powder put on their cheeks, or have to eat something in particular. When they are finished, they all go to the large poles and throw rice at it. This whole dance is asking the spirits of the deceased permission to go through with the ceremony. This was the end of the first part. When I was about to leave, they told me I have to come back and sit in on the second part which was taking place later that night. It was really an honor to be welcomed by them. They were very happy that I was interested and taking pictures.
I came back later that night. This part of the ceremony, the Basir all sit in front of the offering table and play a special drum while chanting in Dayaknese, another Indonesian language spoken by the Dayak people. The chanting is them speaking to the Gods and spirits of the dead. It was a beautiful ritual with rhythmic drumming. This goes on all night long. I was there for about 2 hours. While there, I tried a traditional food called manyipa which is a white paste that you spread onto a leaf. I'm not gonna lie, it tasted terrible and made my whole mouth numb. It also turned my tongue red.
The rest of the ceremony involves digging up the bones of the relative, cleaning the flesh off of them, and placing them in the Sandung. The actual digging up of the bones will take place on Tuesday. I doubt I'll be able to go to that, but if I do, I'll definitely post about it. On Friday, they have another part of the ceremony where they behead a buffalo and eat it. And the final part of the ritual is bringing the bones to the Sandung, which will happen next Sunday. Again, I'm not sure if I'll be able to attend any more of this ceremony, but if I do, you guys will read about it here.
Here's a gallery of more pics from this. Saturday I went on another jungle excursion. I'll post about that in another day or two. Enjoy!