Wednesday, February 27, 2008


What a day. It started off this morning with a couple hours of TED University; sort of a mini fringe TED with a number of unique speakers giving talks that are 12 minutes long. 

David Burk spoke of the Torajans of Sulawasi and their culture of Death. The culture not only has a deep respect & fascination with Death but believes that life itself is really a long prelude to the glory and wonder of death. Funerals last for days and are more like parties with slaughtered Buffalo acting as the currency to pay for these celebrations. 

The recently deceased body of a relative (or relatives) will occupy the back room of a traditional house for an average of four years. Not four days mind you, four years, as the family literally raises buffalo money to send their loved ones off to nirvana: 4 buffalo and you are assured a place in heaven, hence the four years. Someone asked how they dealt with the inevitable odor of decomposition and David said they are unable to smell such an odor after performing a symbolic ritual with a long bamboo tube which is used to suck out the smell and then thrown out the window. He said the symbolic ritual was unhelpful in regards to himself.

The predominant greeting to visitors is, of course, "Do you want to see a dead body?"

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