Toraja Lovely December Event
By: Eka Novita Damayanti
My mind flew to traditional graves up to the high stone hills, to the famous Rambu Solo (traditional burial ceremony of the royal class) and to Tongkonan (the traditional house which the roof made like buffalo’s head) as I heard people mentioned Tana’ Toraja. And I thought, so did most people. But the thought was wrong. The famous Tana Toraja has gotten more to see and to learn than those things. That was what Acok, my best friend, told me.
“Have you ever heard about Rambu Tuka or Rampanan Kapa?” he asked me. I answered the question by moving my head from side to side. That was all new for me. What is Rambu Tuka or Rampanan Kapa all about? Acok explained me that Rambu Tuka or Rampanan Kapa was traditional wedding ceremony from Tana’Toraja. The ceremony is as unique and precious as other ceremonies that have been known first all over the world from Tana Toraja, since there are things about Rambu Tuka (Rampanan Kapa) that people would not find anywhere else, but in Tana Toraja (South Sulawesi/ South Celebes).
The first thing that is unique about Rambu Tuka (Rampanan Kapa) Wedding Ceremony is, it is not a priest nor a clergyman that pronounces the couple as husband and wife, but Ada’ (men that are responsible for the local customs and tradition) and people of Tana’ Toraja put their big respect to them.
“Recently, young couples have been doing different things.” said Acok. “They get married in the churches and let the priests legalize their wedding, while still hold their wedding party in traditional (Rambu Tuka) way.
I asked him more and more questions about this Rambu Tuka as I have got more interested in it and that made Acok honored. He enthusiastically told me about his cousin’ Rambu Tuka Wedding Ceremony he just attended previous week. Acok said there were three types of traditional wedding ceremonies there where every type is based on the economical advantage or disadvantage and the caste in society people have.
The first type is Bo’bo’ Bannang or the simplest traditional wedding ceremony, conducted mostly in the evening by common people. A few people and two or three men of the groom’s family are invited. The groom’s men also take part as witnesses in this ceremony. Since Bo’bo’ Bannang is a simple wedding ceremony, the food served is also simple, consist of some fish and one or two chicken(s).
The second is Rampo Karoen or traditional wedding ceremony for middle class of people. They have advantage in economic more than the previous one and also have middle caste rank in the society. Unlike Bo’bo’ Bannang that is usually held only in the evening, this Rampo Karoen requires longer time (usually from the afternoon until the evening).
There would be read some wedding poems during the wedding, and right before the dinner, all guests and families of the bride and groom will also hear to somebody reading rules and regulation agreed out of Tana, the place where the bride comes from.
The third is Rampo Allo (the highest Rambu Tuka Wedding Ceremony in Society) for the highest class of people (the nobles). These people have the highest economic advantage and caste rank in the society among all. The ceremony they hold requires longest time, more money and energy and during the party, all guests and families are invited in a fancy dinning.
There are some steps the nobles should do before Rampo Allo, like family of the prospective groom sends a delegation to visit his prospective bride and her family at their house or Palingka Kada. Any tribe all over Indonesia consider a marriage as a process that gathers not only two persons (a man and a woman), but also their two big families, so does Toraja tribe. Palingka Kada is an important process and meant to get to know each other better.
“I kept saying that I was too young for this task and ain’t got any experience before, but they urged me.” Acok told me when his big family appointed him as one of the delegations to this Palingka Kada Procession.
“They said any experience was unnecessary, since I did not have to do anything but to sit and listen.” he laughed.
Besides to get to know each other better, the family of the prospective groom also uses this good chance to gather as many information as they can about the girl such as her status (whether she has gotten any relationship with somebody currently). After they have sufficient information about the girl, the delegations inform the aim of their coming is to propose the girl for their son/ grandson/ brother/ cousin. If a good response they get, they would proceed the procession to Umbaa Pangngan (to pack piper beetle leaf in a special package made of palm leaves’ stem called Solong and to deliver it as a gift for the girl’s mother or granny). Umbaa Pangngan is done by some women and a man of the prospective groom’s family. This symbolizes that they are really serious in proposing the girl.
Hearing to Acok’s complete explanation mostly about Rampo Allo, I had a feeling that he was a noble. When I confirmed about it to Acok, this shy guy went red in his face replied me.
“Well….I am.” he replied.
After the first delivery of Umbaa Pangngan, there would be the second and the third. The second delivery of Umbaa Pangngan is done by more people (about eight people) to the girl house, as a symbol that the prospective groom and his family are waiting for an answer of their proposal. The last procession of this Umbaa Pangngan is done by about twelve people. At this step, the proposal is already accepted and the coming aims to discuss the perfect time to hold the ceremony.
Next in Rampo Allo pre wedding ceremony, is Urrampan Kapa’. In Urrampan Kapa’, two families gather to discuss Tana’ of the Marriage (pre wedding agreement about what punishment the man and the woman get if someday during the marriage they do things that break the commitment: like doing mentally and physically abuse, cheating to each other, etc). It is kind of strict, but Kapa’ protects two parts (man and woman from any disadvantage possibility). That was what I learnt from Acok about Tana Toraja’s culture. So, it is not only people in the western who have such agreement, Tana’ Toraja tribes have it too since a long time ago.
Then there comes the big day, the wedding day. The couple walks down the street (after the blessing of their marriage at church) together with some young men dressed in Tana Toraja traditional soldier costumes, the bride maids (also dressed in Tana Toraja traditional costumes, Kandore and some people carrying gifts for the bride to the wedding party area. I hardly could recognize Acok in a photo he saw me. He looked so different (handsome I meant) in Tana Toraja traditional soldier costume. Unfortunately, he was so shy and did not let me to use his private collections of Rambu Tuka’s ceremony for this writing. So, to support my article, I used images I down loaded from the internet. (Thank you so much for Hariyanto wijoyo, Wonderful Indonesia Tourism website for the photos and www.mymakassar.com for the inspiration).
Young Men Dressed in Tana Toraja Soldier Costumes, Walking down the Street before the Bride and the Groom
(Photo Belongs: to Hariyanto)
During the walking, both soldiers and bride maids do their attractions. The soldiers do dancing (I do know for sure what kind of dance it is, but I suppose it is a battle dance), while the bride maids do dancing like Pa’ Gellu Dance, Pa’ Boneballa Dance, Gellu Tungga’ Dance, Ondo Samalele Dance, Pa’Dao Bulan Dance, Pa’Burake Dance, Memanna Dance, Maluya Dance, Pa’Tirra’ Dance or Panimbong Dance while holding silver bowls. Traditional music that use to play in this happy moment are Pa’pompang, Pa’Barrung and Pa’pelle’.
The Bride Maids Dressed in Tana Toraja Traditional Costumes, Kandore.
(Photo Belongs: to Hariyanto)
Tana Toraja’s Bride and Groom.
(Photo Belongs: to Hariyanto)
Acok said there was an unwritten rule there in Tana Toraja that music and dances that use to be played in Rambu Solo’ (The Famous Burial Ceremony) are prohibited in Rambu Tuka (Rampanan Kapa) Wedding Ceremony. (Common Man, of course you can’t play that kind of music in happy moments like a wedding!)
When Acok shared me again another image of his cousin’s wedding, again I think that is another special thing about Rambu Tuka’ and people would not find thing like this anywhere else. The bride and groom together with their parents come up and sit on the wedding dais built right under The Tongkonan (traditional house from Tana’Toraja with black, red and yellow colored of wood carving). The word of Tongkonan, comes from Toraja’s word, Tongkon, which means to sit.
Is there anything more? Sure. And honestly, this a little bit surprised me as Acok said this. Sometimes right up the Tongkonan and the wedding dais, real human skulls are displayed. Why? It is because Toraja tribes put their big respect to their great grandparents and the displaying the skulls there means as an honor for them. This also could not be found anywhere else around the world.
Tana’ Toraja’s Bride, Groom and Their Parents sitting on the Wedding Dais (Photo Belongs: to Hariyanto)
The Real Skulls of Toraja’s Tribes’ Great Grandparents Displayed up the Tongkonan (Photo Belongs: to Hariyanto)
In Rampo Allo, special long tents from bamboo are made for guests coming. Every guest will be sitting in a tent that belongs to the kampong (village) they are coming from. Guests usually come to the party bringing wine fermented from palm and drink it after lunch. This tradition is an honor for the host who invite them.
Guests Are Sitting in the Bamboo Tent. They\Are Drinking Wine (Fermented from the Palm).
(Photo Belongs: to Hariyanto)
And for those who have high position in the government or those who have high caste in society called Alang (the nobles) or those who have high position in the chamber of custom and tradition, will be sitting under the barn, the symbol of prosperity.
Under the Barn, the Place of Prosperity.
(Photo Belongs: to Hariyanto)
How about the families and relatives? They will be sitting in some Tongkonan right in front of the Wedding Dais. Like in the long tents, there was written notice on the paper, telling anybody that a Tongkonan belongs to what family.
Tongkonan, the Traditional House from Tana’Toraja (South Celebes)
(Photo Belongs to: Wonderful Indonesia)
After the lunch, guests will come up the dais to congratulate the happy couple and their parents and to take pictures with them.
The party is over, but not the complete processions. There are still two more processions the bride and groom should complete: Dinasuan / dipandanni langngan and Umpasule Barasang.
Dinasuan / dipandanni langngan is a time when the family of the bride (To Untimangan Kapa’) visits the family of the groom (To Umbongsoran Kapa’)in their house. Dinasuan / dipandanni langngan Procession means that the relationship between the two families becomes closer and better now since they have eaten each other’s food.
In this good opportunity, they will take turn reading traditional poems and poetries about how glorious the marriage (Rampanan Kapa') of ancient kings were and people (especially nobles) should learn a good lesson from them.
Next three days, there would be a turn for the groom family to visit the bride and her family at their home (Umpasule Barasang). They bring some food like (rice, cooked pork and snacks made of rice flour/ Kampodang) with them and place the food in the same baskets the groom sent them. Indeed, the food is for everybody in Umpasule Barasang and after the dining, the groom’s family will go home and leave him in his wife’ house. (He will be living there).
That was all about Rambu Tuka (Rampanan Kapa') Wedding Ceremony. It requires longer time, energy and of course money than other kind of wedding ceremonies in Tana’ Toraja (The Simple Bo’bo’ Bannang Ceremony and the Middle Class Rampo Karoen Ceremony). That is why Rambu Tuka (Rampanan Kapa') is conducted mostly by Tana' Bulaan (the nobles) who are richer than others. That is why those who do not have economical advantage probably would not conduct it.
It is totally impractical with all the processions for some people, but it is worth. The brides and grooms would feel as if they are the real kings and queens during the precious ceremony and would not forget the moment for the rest of their lives. I really hope with this writing and this very good opportunity Toraja Lovely December Event, I could participate in promoting the beauty of Indonesia especially Tana’ Toraja both domestic and international. If it is not us who preserve our own culture, and then who is else?