Traditional Dances | Traditional Music | Traditional Ceremonies

Traditional Dances

Pa’gellu Dance

This dance is normally performed by teenagers, usually girls, during thanksgiving celebration, such as wedding, harvest and to welcome guests in formal ceremonies. The girls wear accessories made from gold and silver. There are two or four teenager boys play drums to accompany the dance.

Click here to watch Pa’gellu Dance:

Bone Balla’ or Ondo Samalele

Women and teenager girls of a big family, who have just completed their Tongkonan’s reconstruction, perform this dance to show their thankfulness. The dance is accompanied by a song called “Passengo”, a praise music . At the last part of the dance, the rest of the family takes part.

Traditional Music


This is Toraja’s traditional flute, which is also known as “Suling Lembang”. The flutes are played by a group of men to accompany “Pa’Marakka” or grief songs that are sung by women. This traditional art is performed to welcome guests, who are present to give their condolence to the mourning family.


A musical instrument that looks like a trumpet. It is made from rice straw assembled by palm leaves. It is usually played during a thanksgiving ceremony after completing a Tongkonan house.


It is a bamboo orchestra that is played by junior students during national ceremony, such as the Independence Day, town’s anniversary, and national festival. The students play contemporary, local, or church songs.


A small bamboo instrument which is played by blowing it up to create a beautiful sound.


It is a musical instrument made from wood and coconut shell with strings.

Traditional Ceremonies

Pigs and Buffalo are the main animals in Toraja’s culture to be sacrificed in every ceremony, especially in Rambu Solo or Toraja’s funeral ceremony and Rambu Tuka or its thanksgiving ceremony. As a special animal, buffalos in Toraja can be extremely expensive, at least to the Indonesian standards. One big “white” buffalo can be priced to tens of millions rupiah.

Rambu Tuka (Thanksgiving Ceremony)

This is a traditional ceremony, which is held by a family or even a whole village. It is usually involved a sacrificial of chickens, pigs or buffalos to show thankfulness to God for the harvest seasons or for a new “Tongkonan”.

As part of the ceremony, the Manimbong Dance will be performed by men who are wearing special traditional clothes called “Baju Pokko’” and “Seppa Tallu Buku”, with ancient shields.

Click here to watch Rambu Tuka:

Rambu Solo (Funeral Ceremony)

“Rambu Solo” is the biggest funeral ceremony in Tana Toraja. This funeral will be held by the family of the dead person. The families have to sacrifice lots of big buffalos, pigs and other animals in this ceremony, depending on the social status of the dead person family. This ceremony is a major tourist attraction.

Influenced by the local religion “Aluk Todolo”, the Torajans believe that bad thing might happen if the family didn’t hold the ceremony, though today many families conduct this Rambu Solo as a part of their traditions.

There are many types of “Rambu Solo”: “Disilli” (for children or infants of the lowest class: sacrifice of one pig only), “Dipasangbongi” (a one-night-long ceremony for young and adults of the lowest class, normally will sacrifice one buffalo and four pigs), “Dipatallung Bongi” (a three-night-long ceremony for the middle class, normally sacrifice four buffaloes and many pigs), “Dipapitung Bongi” (a seven-night-long ceremony for the highest class, sacrifice of many buffaloes and pigs), and “Dirapai” (the most luxury ceremony for the high class society that may spend even more than a year and will need about 24 buffaloes and hundreds of big pigs).

Below other rituals part of this ceremony.

Click here to watch Rambu Solo:

Ma’pasilaga Tedong / Bullfight

This is a water-buffalo fight or known as “Ma’pasilaga tedong”. The bullfight is one of the entertainment parts of the funeral ceremony. Unlike the bullfight in Spain, that is a “fight” between a man and a buffalo, the Torajan’s bullfight involves two water buffaloes only.

Click here to watch Ma’pasilaga:

Sisemba / Men’s Leg Fight

It is a “performance” usually done by a group of men and boys. This is how is works: every individual involved will trying to hit/kick any person of the group with his own leg. It looks like as if they are fighting but it more of a show since they are no team no winner. The “fight” is considered as a fair game, because people never “attack” those who are on the ground and raising their hands.

For those who are not used to this kind of culture, this can be seen as a tough game. Just like some people who don’t like boxing or other rough games because of similar reasons. However, this traditional performance becomes a rare thing to see today.

Click here to watch Ma’pasilaga:

Ma’tinggoro Tedong / Buffalo Slaughter

A tradition where a man sleight a buffalo that already tethered to a big stone, with a sharp machete at once on its neck. This is the ending of the “Rambu Solo” ritual.

To a few groups of people this may be considered as a cruel moment, while to a few different groups, they might see it from different perspectives, such as from a cultural standpoint. Just like in other countries, some people do accept the bull fighting concept (between man and a buffalo) but some just can’t accept the idea.

Click here to watch Ma’tinggoro Tedong: (may be considered as a violent video, don’t click/watch if you dislike violent show)

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