Beliefs and Traditions of Sulawesi in the Past

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Beliefs and Traditions of Sulawesi in the Past

Sulawesi is the third largest island in Indonesia. The island of Sulawesi is shaped like a tropical orchid. Sulawesi is divided into 6 provinces, Gorontalo, West Sulawesi, South Sulawesi, Central Sulawesi, Southeast Sulawesi, North Sulawesi.

Before the Europeans came to Indonesia, local people in Sulawesi have lots of beliefs. One of their belief is called Animism. Animism is a belief that non-living objects have spirits in them. In this belief, Animism, people are often considered the same as animals, plants, and natural forces. It is their duty to treat these things with respect. In Animism, humans are considered as a part of nature, not different from it.

Rituals are necessary for survival. It is for food, and to repel evil spirits. In Animism’s perspective there is a deeper meaning that man is a special character that makes them different from all the other objects and animals. But it is still important to perform rituals to ensure good luck, good harvest, and so on.

Animistic beliefs has a system that after physical death, humans becomes eternal spirit. The spirit is believed to have switched to a world full of pleasure, wonderful things, or good harvest. In another system, the spirit stays or lives on earth as a ghost, which is often with bad character. In other systems, believes that the spirit is to walk into a spirit world without getting lost and wandering around as a ghost. Ceremonial burial, was held by the relatives, descendants that have survived, are often considered as necessary for the success of completing the journey.

From the belief in surviving the dead, as I just said, comes the practice of offering food, lighting fires, etc., at the grave, at first, as an act of friendship and later as an act of ancestor worship. Offering food or shedding blood at the grave develops into a complicated system of sacrifice. Even if the ancestor worship is not found, the want to provide the dead with comforts in the next life may lead to sacrificing wives, slaves, animals and also other things, to the breaking or burning of objects at the grave or providing the ferryman’s toll (a coin put in the mouth of the corpse to pay the fee of the travel.

There is one practice, which is the practice of head shrinking among the Jivaroan and Urarina peoples obtain from an animistic belief. If the spirit of one’s mortal enemies ones being are not trapped within the head, they can escape bodies. After the spirit is moved to another body, they can take form of a predatory animal and take revenge.

Usually, rituals in animistic cultures are performed by shamans or priests, who usually have an experience more than the human experience. Shamans and priests both believes in Animism too much until they even became shamans and priests. Many people are affected by this and some people doesn’t like it at all.

So, different religion have different beliefs. Although beliefs might be weird, don’t tease people just because of their belief.

Internet: Wikipedia, 29th July 2010
Internet: Wikipedia, 4th August 2010
Internet: Safari Tours and Travel, North Sulawesi Tourism Organisation, 4th August 2010,

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