Under the blue skyUnder the blue skyUnder the blue sky

Batak Traditions

Batak is a tribe that originally lives in Northern part of Sumatra Island, Indonesia. There exist six kinds of Batak in Indonesia: Toba, Simalungun, Mandailing, Karo, Pakpak, and Nias. They live in different areas, thus, own moderately different traditions. Principally, Batak traditions are operated to organize the relationships of Batak people. So, the traditions are sort of regulations within Batak.

Dalihan Na Tolu is the principle tradition of Batak. It is a triangle bond between brothers, sisters, and brothers of the mother. In a Batak wedding ceremony dalihan na tolu of the groom and dalihan na tolu of the bride will be involved. Terre is a Batak Toba. The Batak wedding traditions, as follow, are based on Batak Toba traditions.

Toba Lake, North Sumatera


This phase starts with searching for a Batak woman. Batak grooms have to search among the other 451 marga, clan, for a wife since the tradition stipulates that a man may not marry a woman from his own clan. In Batak traditions, it is taboo for a woman coming initially to a man. Both being in love and decided to get married, the next step is marhusip, which is having the groom’s representative visiting the bride’s family. However, since a Batak can only marry another Batak, Steve has to be adopted by a willing Batak clan and thereby marry a Batak wife according to tradition. Steve will be adopted by Gultom family and receive Gultom as his Batak marga.

At marhusip, the groom and his Batak family (core family) will visit the bride’s family to discuss ensue between the two families to determine if everyone is in agreement with the marriage, what the dowry will be, where the wedding will be held, how many people will be invited, what the wedding will cost, and who will pay for it. Men and women are separated during these discussions, with the men making all the decisions.

Once an agreement has been achieved, the next ceremony is called marhata sinamot. Somehow this ceremony is similar to the marhusip discussion but dalihan na tolu of the groom and the bride are involved.

The main step of pre wedding is martumpol, the engagement. This ceremony takes place in a church. The groom and the bride vow their desires to get marry and promise to build a Christian family in front of the church elders and dalihan na tolu of both. After martumpol each family get together at their own place to prepare their parts for the wedding ceremony. The ceremony is called martonggo raja by the groom’s side and marria raja by the bride’s side. In a Batak wedding, families are the wedding organizers. The families will discuss about details, such as who will be raja parhata (master of ceremony), the representative at giving the gifts, the representative at receiving the gifts, the timetable, etc.

Tor Tor, Batak Toba Traditional Dance

The Wedding

The wedding day is started with marsibuhai-buhai, having breakfast together at the bride’s. The groom will take the bride to the church for a holy matrimony. Afterwards the bride, the groom, and the families will have a Batak wedding ceremony. Typical affirmation of Batak wedding is as follow:

The wedding is attended by dalihan na tolu and neighbours of the groom and the bride.

The groom’s family gives the bride’s family Namargoar ni juhut, A head, some ribs, a tail part of a cow, a buffalo, or a pig that are arranged and cooked in Batak style. The bride’s family then gives the groom’s family dengke, some goldfish that are cooked in Batak style. These gifts are exchanged before lunch.

Somba ni adat and somba ni uhum, offerings usually money, will be given by the groom’s family to the bride’s.

At least five ulos, traditional Batak cloth like a sarong, ulos na marhadohoan (meaning ulos that is produced for a special occasion) will be given by the bride’s family to the groom’s. The newlyweds will receive at least two ulos holong (meaning ulos that is given based on love) from the parents and the families.


Post Wedding

Paulak Une is a visiting ceremony when the groom and his core family come to hula-hula, the bride’s family, to show their honours and respects to the bride and her family in protecting the bride’s virginity. Through this tradition, Batak parents educate their children to not having sex before marriage, which also follows the teaching of Bible. If the bride is no longer a virgin, the visiting ceremony will still be completed but called paulak boru.

Maningkir Tangga is a consequent visiting of the bride’s family to the newlywed’s house. This is sort of an informal one, like a casual visiting. Its purpose is to strengthening the relationship between the groom and the parents in law, showing love of the parents to their daughter and to observing how well the groom and his family taking care their daughter.

written by Terre Rajagukguk, summarized from several sources.


oLiN said…
Tere und Steve sind gute Freunde von mir, ich freue mich sehr auf ihrer Hochzeit:)
Leideeeerr kann ich nicht kommen, da ich gerade meine Diplomarbeit schreibe (soorrrryyyyy)
Übrigens : Herzlichen Glückwunsch!:)

Kommentar über eures Blog:
Seeeehhhrrr süüüüßßßßß, sehr schön, habr ihr toll gemacht;)
Tere ist so ein kreativer Mensch, hätte eigtl Architektur studieren sollen hehehe…

Alles Gute und Liebe Liebe Liebe Grüße,

eure oLiN

Anonymous said…
Hi.. How are you Terre? My name is Lister Manalu I’m batakness too. Now I’m studying at LIA (lembaga Indonesia America) I’m taking one year English program so I’m sorry because my English not good enough and I think it’s a good time to practice. I’m just going to say thanks for your writing about your wedding ceremonies even I was born in Tarutung/Taput but I have not understand about wedding ceremonies before I read your writing. I think you are good at writing because I really easy to understand your writing.
Bytheway, have you got any children? Sorry Terre may I know you further? Actually I have been married for 6 years but we haven’t got any children yet and now we are in having baby program. My husband is Sindar Nababan. We live in Jogjakarta. He works at travel agent so if you want visiting Jogja call me. I will appreciate if you have time to replay my letter.God Bless US



steve&terre said…
Hi Lister,

thanks for dropping a comment in my blog, really appreciate that. Could you please send me your email address? You wrote something about calling you, although you didn’t write me your numbers. So, wish to hear from you soon.


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