In the remote village of Tana Toraja in Indonesia, locals have a bizarre ritual for dead babies. Instead of burning or burying the bodies, they wrap them in cloth and seal them inside trees so they can be “absorbed” by nature.
The Toraja people have long been known for their unique death rituals. Deceased adults are interred in caves until the yearly celebration of Ma’Nene. During that time, the corpses are removed, dressed up, and paraded around the town. Babies who die before they start teething, however, are left to be “absorbed” by trees. The result is beautiful and kind of creepy.
Often, funerals in Tana Toraja can last for days. During this time, “graves” are hollowed out in giant tree trunks. Infants are then wrapped in cloth and placed inside.
The hole is covered with woven palm fibers. Sometimes, as many as a dozen babies are placed in one tree.
Although the practice may seem a bit morbid, the Toraja people don’t see it that way. To them, it’s an incredible honor for their community’s most precious souls to be absorbed by nature.
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