The Toraja are an ethnic group indigenous to a mountainous region of
South Sulawesi, Indonesia. Their population is approximately 650,000,
of which 450,000 still live in the regency of Tana Toraja. Most of the
population is Christian, and others are Muslim or have local animist
beliefs known as aluk ("the way"). Torajans are renowned for their
elaborate funeral rites, burial sites carved into rocky cliffs,
massive peaked-roof traditional houses known as tongkonan, and
colorful wood carvings. Toraja funeral rites are important social
events, usually attended by hundreds of people and lasting for several
days. Before the 20th century, Torajans lived in autonomous villages,
where they practised animism and were relatively untouched by the
outside world. In the early 1900s, Dutch missionaries first worked to
convert Torajan highlanders to Christianity. When the Tana Toraja
regency was further opened to the outside world in the 1970s, it
became an icon of tourism in Indonesia: it was exploited by tourism
developers and studied by anthropologists. By the 1990s, when tourism
peaked, Toraja society had evolved significantly, from its
agricultural beginnings into a largely Christian society.
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Today's selected anniversaries:
The First Crusade concluded with the Battle of Ascalon and Fatimid
forces under Al-Afdal Shahanshah retreating to Egypt.
Forces led by David the Builder decisively won the Battle of
Didgori, driving Ilghazi and the Seljuk Turks out of Georgia.
History of nuclear weapons: The first Soviet thermonuclear bomb, Joe
4, was detonated at Semipalatinsk, Kazakh SSR.
Japan Airlines Flight 123 crashed in Gunma Prefecture, Japan,
killing 520 of 524 on board in the world's worst single-aircraft
American paleontologist Sue Hendrickson found the most complete
skeleton of a Tyrannosaurus near Faith, South Dakota, USA.
Wiktionary's Word of the day:
turgid: Distended beyond the natural state by some internal agent,
especially fluid, or expansive force.
Wikiquote of the day:
Faith plays an important role in an open society. Exactly because our
understanding is imperfect, we cannot base our decisions on knowledge
alone. We need to rely on beliefs, religious or otherwise, to help us
make decisions. But we must remain open to the possibility that we may
be wrong so that we can correct our mistakes. Otherwise, we are bound
to be wrong. -- George Soros