Batak Wedding Ceremonies

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.


Anonymous said...

just drop by to your blog when i'm googling to find meaning of ulos.
Thanks for your blog.. it's good to read and trigger me to give little comment.

nice 2c you,

Anonymous said...

Horas Terre and Steve,

I've read your blog, becouse I was searching on Google about the Marhusip. thanks for the information. I'm having my Marhusipon 21 Februari. I'm going to be a member of the Sitorus Marga. My wife to be is from the Sinaga Marga.

Ludger Zikking and Megawati Sinaga.

Juli said...

Hi there,

I found your blog while looking for information about batak culture and weddings in particular. I am an australian girl but my fiance` is bataknese. We would like to have a bataknese wedding but I am not sure how that will work as I am not bataknese. What do you think?


Terre said...

Hi Juli,

thanks for stopping by. Well, the answer to your question is actually what I wrote in the Batak Wedding Ceremonies. First of all, you have to find a Bataknese family who is willing to adopt you. They will, then, organize what to do.
It's a personal preference whether one would like to be adopted to Batak family and do Batak wedding ceremonies. So, I would say, discuss it with your fiancee. In my case, my family would prefer for me marrying a Bataknese man, so, my non-Batak-boyfriend had to be adopted by a Batak family, which was indeed the only way.
I hope you could find a way that brings joy to both of you. Anyway, it's you and your fiancee's wedding.

syamimi said...

hi terre
I just wanna know where you got this article about batak's wedding? I'm so interested. so, please do give me your answer. if its from the books, can you tell me the title?
I'm tired with the online resources. =)

Juliaty said...

Hi Terre, my name is Wida McDonald (br Simanjuntak). Me n hubby married 13yrs ago but not in Batak's Ceremony, and now have 3 girls. We are thinking to do the Batak's ceremony starting with get 'Marga' for my hubby then 'Adat' (I'm thinking to do this next year tho) but I am not so sure what's involve, btw I live in Australia and here's my email,

God bless

theng theng said...

Hi Terre,

I am a Chinese. But my boyfriend is a Batak. We cannot get married unless there are a family who want to adopt me. His mother strongly want him to marry a Batak. May i know how can i find a Batak family to adopt me?

steve&terre said...

Hi Theng theng,

first thing first, talk to your boyfriend's family. Tell them that you're willing to get adopted. Ask your BF if he has a Namboru. Namboru is a sister of your BF's father. By sister that would include all cousins. Ask this namboru nicely if she would be willing to adopt you. To telling you the truth, if they support your relationship, they will help you talk to any namboru for this reason. I hope this helps.


Anonymous said...

This is a good article because I'm about to marry a Batak woman (Toba). I'm Christian, but my ethnic background is spanish/father, jewish/mother (now Christian), but raised in Chicago. I've made sooo many cultural mistakes, mostly because mistrust, really. The cultures do not trust each other,or just I found many things of the batak culture "questionable". I feel there is so much control over myself and my girlfriend, that it gets very uncomfortable at times. I live in Java, so does she and we will be going to Medan for the wedding. I thank you for the terms and the explanations you gave. I wrote them down!

Anonymous said...

Hello steve and terre, I hope I can still get a reply since it has been a while that this atrical was written.
Me and my boyfriend (batak) are getting married, his mom will adopt me and everything can be arranged for us in order to ger married. But now my question is if there are some stuff that is really important for me to understand like what exactly it is that batak women do and I mean after the marriage. They basically take care of everything (household kids cooking cleaning, just everything) but is there anything I should really know as foreigner marrying into batak? Especially as woman?
Thank you in advance.

steve&terre said...

Hi Lorette,

first of all, congratulation for the next step in your life. We've been living in Germany long enough, for me not to put too much attention on the adat Batak.
To answer your question: it depends on when you and your husband will leave. Will you leave abroad? If so, there's almost nothing you need to worry about. If you will leave in Indonesia, in Jakarta for instance, being a Batak wife means that you should follow Adat Batak. Well, that also depends on how demanding your in laws would be. I mean if they, themselves, do not attend to many of Adat Batak, then, you could expect that you wouldn't either. If your in laws and your husband follow Adat Batak much, then, you would be expected to follow it as well. For instance, if you are invited to attend a Batak wedding, depending on your role, there are certain things to prepare or do. The same thing as other Bataks will do at your upcoming wedding. If your in laws are more modern type, it would be like marrying to any other person from any other culture. You would be expected to respect the in laws, for instance, nothing extraordinary. I hope this helps and will ease your worry a bit. Enjoy the wedding preparation!!

Terre Rajagukguk

Anonymous said...

Hi terre, thank you so much for your easing reply. We will be moving to sumatra, bengkulu, he is originally from batak toba. Luckily his parents are modern and understanding enough to realize im western and that learning the language, becoming Christian and learn about the batak culture is already a big task.
Thank you again forr your reply.


Anonymous said...

Hi my comment is for Lorette -hopefully you may see this. I am also a western girl and thinking of moving to sumatra with my boyfriend who is toba batak also. I would love to get your email address and chat with you, I need all the information I can get.

Patricia Manurung said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
MCD,Tete said...

hi Steve & Terre,

thanks for your articale on adat batak wedding ceremonies as a step by step expaination.

I'm a foreigner of different enthnicity (Papua)and has a Batak Toba fiance. We have had our ups and downs (due to various reasons/factors) in our relationships for the last 3 years and eventually my fiance strongly suggests for our Batak wedding to done this year. But Im kind of having doubt in the wedding costs involved, which she suggests that I meet all the wedding cost. So, for my clarification, how much would a typicl Batak Wedding ceremony costs (all inclusive, etc)?

thank you in advance


steve&terre said...

Manuel, there is no limit for a wedding cost. I'd say it all depends on the pride and expectation. One can have a very simple one costing ca. 30-40 million rupiah, but if her family expect a nice big one, that'd be hunderds million rupiah. So, I'd suggest to discuss this with her, set some limit and expectation. The price for a Batak wedding is more or less the same as other cultural wedding. I hope this helps.