Senin, Mei 18, 2009

Tana Toraja

Tana Toraja is situated in South Sulawsi. It is eight hours drive from Makassar, where the nearest airport located. Tana Toraja is famous for it’s death ceremonies. It was foreign anthropologists who made it internationally known.

Beside it’s culture, it’s hospitable people and breathtaking landscape along the way to Tana Toraja attract tourists to visit this place. It is reported that thousands of tourists come to place every year. ‘It has a mixture of beautiful scenery, hospitable people and amazing culture,’ said Halim Indrakusuma, president director of PACTO Ltd, a Jakarta based inbound tour operator. The complex mixture of scenic beauty and magical culture of Torajans have been know for years. In 1974, Neckermann, one of the biggest German Tour operators, started bringing large numbers of foreign tourists to the place.

When thousand first came, the local were happy as they could learn something from the outside world. There was a great hope that tourism would increase their economy. It would bring many job opportunities.

However, when hordes of tourists finally arrived, the local people were not happy any more, especially when ignorant tourists came wearing shorts while they were carrying out their sacred ceremonies. The matter got worse when they had to hold their ceremonies to coincide with the visiting time of some VIP guest brought in by government official. They felt that soul of their ceremonies was lost.

The worst effect of tourism on the Torajan is that tourism has caused many of their sacred artifacts, like funeral effigies and even their ancestor’s skulls., to be stolen. Prof. Hetty Nooy-Palm, a cultural anthropologist from the University of Amsterdam, showed the tragic disappearance of most of tautau, dummies representing the deceased, from the cliff graves im Lemo between 1981 and 1987.

Actually, those were primarily caused by communication problems. The local people could not effectively tell the foreigners what they should not do in their ceremonies. Moreover, there are some irresponsible guides who translate differently to tour operators when local people complain of their problems and views. That is admitted by Mr. Indrakusuma.

Apparently, the government should improve their tourism management. The increasing number of tourists is important, but the traditions of Torajan is important to be keep as well. If the traditions really loose their soul, it is obvious that the number of tourist will decrease.

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