Horas | Batak Traditions
The Meaning and Definitions of HORAS & Batak Traditions
Horas is a greeting frequently said in everyday life by Batak People from North Sumatra especially the “Tapanuli”.
In addition to Horas, other unique greeting words are Menjuah-juah from Karo and Yahobu from Nias. But Horas is the most popular and widely used. It is difficult to find the Indonesian translation as Horas means, among others:
- how are you,
- wishing a good health,
- introductory word,
- good morning/afternoon /evening,
Horas in Batak tradition has its uniqueness, created from Batak’s life philosophy “Dalihan Na Tolu” (DNT). Literary DNT means “Tungku Nan Tiga” or Stove supported by three legs. The philosophy shows the intimate internal relationship from three Batak’s familial society which pray for everyone to always be “Horas-Horas”: Somba Mar Hula-hula, Elek mar boru, Manat Mar – Dongan tubu.
According to DNT, Batak Familial relationship is divided in three parts : Hula-hula (family of the wife), Dongan tubu (our surname, patriarch line, father, grandfather and sons), Boru (women family from father, our sister and their husbands’ family). Somba mar – Hula-hula means to always follow and respect the Hula-hula in order to be “Horas-Horas” ; Elek mar- Boru means to love our sister and their husbands so we will be blessed abundantly.
Manat mar – Dongan Tubu means carefully maintain the family relationship to avoid misfortune and curse from our family. Every Batak person is a King (Raja), not in a monarch way of meaning.
The word is commonly used in Batak’s traditional ceremonies and every day life. In the DNT relationship, it is symbolized in a triangle, each is called: Raja ni Hula-hula, Raja ni Boru and Raja ni Dongan Tubu. Every Batak male in the society has been in the three DNT positions; Hula-hula, Boru or Dongan Tubu, depending on the situation and condition. Batak tradition does not consider one’s position, wealth or status because it solely refers to DNT philosophy.
In a traditional ceremony, a General might need to work and help the wife’s family who is a Sergeant. This might an ackward situation for the Sergeant, but that is Batak familial relationship. Based on their tradition, Batak people are simple, cooperative, giving and gentle. It is wrong to say that Batak people is rude, tough and difficult to socialize.
The rough and tough physical appearance is the result of Tapanuli natural condition which shape Batak people’s life. Tapanuli soil is dry and hard with high altitude from sea water that force Batak people to work hard for food. Hard wind and the long distance between houses have made them to scream or yell in order to communicate. Such character is only in appearance, but they have a good heart.
Another Tapanuli tradition is Tarombo (family tree) which is inherited from the father to the sons. It is said that all Tarombo is written on woodenbarks, leather and white linen and pass from generation to generation through the sons. From this Tarombo, the 20th generation will easily trace their patriarch and family members.
Horas jala gabe!
Paian Simbolon, Badak-Samarinda, East Kalimantan, INDONESIA