Monday May 28, 2018

The Tojarans of Indonesia dig up dead relatives to celebrate Ma’nene Festival

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The ritual, known as MaiNene, involves exhumed up dead family members, cleaning them and re-dressing them. Image source: dailymail.co.uk
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  • Every three years the Ma’nene Festival takes place
  • Loved ones unbury the deceased, clean them, and parade them around the village
  • This practice helps them maintain the relationship between life and death

Here, rest, is an operative word. The Tojarans let their deceased loved ones rest in more than one place. Expensive burials are part of the tradition. A large space in the village is cleared out so that a proper burial can be completed. Once the body has been buried, these natives of Indonesia believe that the soul of the deceased lives on in the village for days after the death. All of these traditions seem normal, but the Tojaran people want to make sure their loved ones feel as though they are part of the family long after they have died.

In fact, every three years they up heave them from their graves, clean off the corpses and then parade them around as part of the Ma’nene Festival. The population consists of 650,000 people, many of whom are Christian or Muslim, some still practice the ancient beliefs of “Aluk Todolo.” What may come across to many as a peculiar ritual is a way that the Tojarans strengthen the bond between them and their deceased loved ones. On the island of Sulawesi, Indonesia, the indigenous people celebrate life.

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The ceremony has its ancient roots in a story involving a man by the name of Pong Rumasek. An animal hunter, Rumasek came across a decomposing body under a tree. Not having been properly buried, the animal hunter took it upon himself to do so. Dressing the corpse in his clothes, and then giving it the proper burial it deserved, Rumasek went on his way. After his actions, he was convinced he was graced with good luck. Thus, ‘the ceremony of cleaning corpses,’ or the Ma’nene Festival, was born.

Torjajan Girls. Wikimedia Commons
Torjajan Girls. Image source: Wikimedia Commons

These mummified bodies are well kept. After death the bodies are prepared with formalin. This chemical helps mummify the body, and is the initial step to making sure that later on the body can be dug up to celebrate. Once the body is dug up, loved ones dust and clean them. The family members also make sure that artifacts, such as a pair of glasses, are preserved and cleaned as well.

The clothing on the body is changed and loved ones have intimate moments with the corpses. While the corpses are out of their burial sites, coffins are either replaced or repaired. Once the corpses are dressed in their more modern attire, they are paraded around the town but only on paths that create straight lines. It is believed that by following straight lines the people will be connected with Hyang. Hyang is a spiritual being with mystical powers that only moves in straight lines.

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This ritual is considered to be one of the most important rituals in the village. Burials can be expensive, and many of the people save up money their whole lives so that they may rest in peace properly. The Tojarans also understand certain precautions must be taken when handling the corpses. Many wear masks so they do not breathe in the dust from the exhumed bodies.

The expensive aspect from this ritual does not stem from the maintenance of the corpse. Rather, sacrifices are made, and with these, the more the merrier. In one case, a tourist witnessed 17 water buffalo sacrificed for just one woman. Interestingly this woman had already been dead for over 20 years.

The practice of up heaving the dead from their graves comes across as appalling to many. When reading about the practice you come to realize that it is purely out of love and respect that the corpses are paraded around. These indigenous people see it as including the deceased into their lives long after they are able to participate.

-by Abigail Andrea, an intern at NewsGram. Twitter: @abby_kono

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4 Christian Movies on Netflix That Teach You History

In fact, many of them are either dramatic adaptations of Bible canons or simply historical accounts of that particular era with some moral lessons thrown into the mix to fit the theme of the movies.

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Christian movies get a bad rap
Movies about religion or Christianity are not necessarily religious in nature.

Christian movies get a bad rap. Many people avoid watching them under the assumption that they are a personal soap box for the directors or writers to showcase their faith in God. While you can easily make this case for a certain number of them, movies about religion or Christianity are not necessarily religious in nature. In fact, many of them are either dramatic adaptations of Bible canons or simply historical accounts of that particular era with some moral lessons thrown into the mix to fit the theme of the movies. Either way, while they are not full on historical renditions, they can teach you a lot about that historical era. Without further ado, here are four Christian movies on Netflix that teach you history.

Joseph & Mary (2016)

Joseph & Mary is a historical biblical drama that follows the journey of Elijah, a devout rabbi, who swears revenge upon King Herod the Great, who slaughtered hundreds of innocents, including his two child proteges. Elijah’s quest for revenge gets a lot more complicated when he starts spending time with Joseph, Mary,and their young Son, who challenge the very beliefs that fuel his rage.

Starring Kevin Sorbo as Joseph – which you might remember from the light-hearted Tv Show Hercules: The Legendary Journeys and Captain Dylan Hunt in Andromeda –, and Lara Jean Chorostecki – of Hannibal and Designated Survivor fame -, the film, due to its heavy subject matter, might not be an easy watch for everybody.

However, history buffs will surely appreciate the care and detail that the writers and producers put into the décor, costumes,and script, as it feel very authentic from a historical standpoint. If you are interested to see more Christian movies that are historically accurate, make sure to check out this article on Netflix Guides, a website frequently updated with well-written guides and reviews.

Joseph: King of Dreams (2000)

Joseph: King of Dreams is a 2000 American animated biblical musical drama.  Serving as a prequel to the 1998 film The Prince of Egypt, the plot itself is an adaptation of the story of Joseph from the Book Of Genesis in the Bible. Not many people might think to get their history lessons from an animated musical, you will soon find out that Joseph: King of Dreams will shatter this perception. While the film does take some artistic liberties when it comes to historical facts, the animators made a great job of reconstructing the spirit and atmosphere of the era.

Featuring a stellar cast that includes Ben Affleck, Richard Herd (Get Out, Star Trek: Renegades) andMark Hamill (Luke Skywalker, and many other voice roles in animated shows and video games), King of Dreams is a great Christian film that will charm you with its smart direction, good music and enticing story.

The Book of Esther (2013)

Released in 2013, the film follows the story of Esther, a Jewish girl who is handpicked as the new queen consort to King Xerxes I of Persia. The story centers around Esther’s efforts to stop Lord Haman from exterminating her people. The film does take some artistic licenses from the Biblical account, but the main actress’ good performance compensates for any of the film’s shortcomings. If you are looking for an intrigue film with a historical Christian twist, then do not hesitate to try out The Book of Esther.

 Son of God (2014)

Christian movies get a bad rap
Christian Movies are worth watching.

Son of God is a direct adaptation of the ten-hour miniseries The Bible, which aired on the History channel throughout March 2013. Starring DiogoMorgado as Jesus Christ, Darwin Shaw as Saint Simon Peter, Sebastian Knapp as Saint John and Roma Downey as Mary, amongst others, the film is a retelling of the Biblical Story of Jesus, from his birthright until his crucifixion and ascended into Heaven.

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The story itself is seen through the eyes of an elderly John, one of Jesus’ most faithful followers, who is living in exile after being the sole survivor of the group. While the film does contain some recycled scenes from the miniseries (probably because they are produced by the same person, Mark Burnett, or simply due to budget constraints), Son of God stands on its own and is worth a view even if you have already seen the TV show. DiogoMorgado deserves special praise for his stellar acting, which is arguably one of the best interpretations of Jesus Christ after Jim Caviezel’s performance in The Passion of the Christ.

Conclusion

Many people tend to avoid watching Christian movies believing that they are either poor quality or too preachy. But in reality, only a small fraction of them are like this – most of them are quite balanced and made in such a way that even people who are not particularly religious can enjoy them. The movies that we have showcased in this write up, with their good casts and direction, appeal both to Christians, and people who enjoy good historical dramas. If you are looking for Christian movies but are unsure what to choose, do not hesitate to give these titles a try.