One characteristic of the traditional belief of Toraja ancestors was the animism that had been adhered to for centuries before the arrival of the Dutch colonial. In 1913, the Christian denominator group called zending had existed in Toraja and began to spread Christianity.
With the growing teachings of Christianity since that time, animists have diminished. Even so, until now adherents of animism or traditional Toraja religion or commonly called aluk todolo are not completely lost.
Aluk todolo adherents can be easily found especially in the interior of Toraja.
Knowing or understanding how this ancestral belief is important or not is not something to be debated. On the one hand, the majority of ethnic Torajans have embraced Christianity which clearly rejects animism.
On the other hand, it is undeniable that aluk todolo had a big contribution to the dynamics of the Toraja culture from the beginning until now. So, knowing how aluk todolo is, it can be said, is the same as knowing the Toraja culture as a whole.
Puya, the world of spirits
Ancestors of the Toraja tribe believe that after humans die, they will leave for another world called puya. The ruler in Puya is Puang Lalondong. That said, the puya is located in the south. That is why there is the term “malemo sau’ ” meaning that it has departed to the south. Sau’ in Toraja is expressed to indicate the south.
This is evident in the badong (torajan’s poetry of death) poetry during the burial ceremony:
… tiromi tu tau tongan,
tu tonatampa deata
malemo naturu’ gaun
sau’ rumembena langi’,
sau’ ingko’na batara, …. etc.
Ancestral tradition, life in puya is the same as human life in this world. They carried out various activities such as eating, drinking, marrying and dying as usual when he was still alive.
Prosperity in the nature of puya is determined by the number of animals and property sacrificed during the funeral ceremony. All sacrifices at that time became provisions for people who died to go to puya. People who do not carry anything or do not sacrifice anything at his funeral, his spirit will be rejected by Puang Lalondong stepping into the puya.