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Horas | Batak Traditions

August 12, 2008 by  
Filed under Information, Medan History, Medan People

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,
  • welcome/goodbye.

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.

batak homes traditons people

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


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3 Responses & Reviews to “Horas | Batak Traditions” Share Your Thoughts

  1. matthew on August 15th, 2008 5:38 am

    apologies to be off-topic, but do you know any store in Medan (phone number) where I could buy a Zojirushi rice cooker (Japanese – very expensive, some models cost more than $200).

    Any phone numbers so I could call and check before I go and buy?

  2. melly ardelia on December 29th, 2010 11:39 am

    Dear Medanku,

    Warm Greetings from Holiday Tour & Travel !

    Could you send us a quote for this group?

    period 30 December 2010 – 03 January 2011 :

    ITINERARY as follow :

    30 Dec’10 : Arrived in Medan, pick up at airport and city tour until night transfer to Hotel.
    31 Dec’10 : City Tour Medan – Danau Toba – Prapat (B/L/-)
    01 Jan’11 : City Tour Prapat – Brastagi (B/L/D)
    02 Jan’11 : City Tour Brastagi – Medan (B/L/-)
    03 Jan’11 : Hotel – Airport transfer

    Total Person : 03 Person
    Guest Name : TBA

    We need hotel 04**** and triple bed with strong request

    Please give me the best price and we will full payment after deal with the price

    Best Regards,
    Melly Ardelia
    Jl. Terusan Pasir Koja No. 192
    Bandung – 40232, Indonesia
    Ph. +62-22-612 4401 Fax. +62-22-612 4402
    E-mail :
    YM :

  3. fajar tumanggor on February 18th, 2011 7:00 pm

    dear medan
    tq for webside horas batak traditional.i was born in tapanuli tengah manduamas barus 39 ago.we live in bali now . ineed your help.can you pass my hallo to SMA TAMAN SISWA jalan polonia medan.i graduated 1995 i miss all the guru.tq
    mauliate godang horas-horas jala gabe

    fajar tumanggor

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