The Procession of ‘Mangongkal Holi’, one of Ritual in Batak Custom


For Batak tribe especially Batak Toba, the process of Batak custom is implemented in their daily life since they born even when they die. One of them by performing a ritual ‘Mangongkal Holi’ or move the bones of ancestors to be collected in a new place.

Toba Batak people believe that a death is not the end of the journey of life, but actually phase to achieve perfection. Trough this session of ‘mangongkal holi’ so the ‘hasangapon’–in batak language- or the glory of a clan or descent will be achieved. In “Bonapasogit” or homeland, there are many magnificent tombs or graves, commonly called ‘Tugu’ (tombs shaped like a monument), where all the dead in family were gathered in it.

The tradition ‘mangongkal holi’ or dig and move the bones of ancestors or parents in Batak custom is one manifestation to honor the ancestors. Collecting the bones from the whole descendants from ‘ompung’or the oldest grandfather to a certain place in their hometown, where their ancestor’s come from. With this ritual the people of Batak Toba hope for getting an abundance of blessings, a lot of offspring, longevity, and wealth.

The new place is called as Tugu or Tambak is a kind of monument who specially built for the said ancestor bones. If you happen to visit Toba land, you can see there are so many Tambak or Tugu around there.

Batak Toba believes that the death is not the end of the journey of life. There are still further stage that is stage to a perfect life.

They also believe that Mangokkal Holi ritual is one of way to honor their forefathers. By doing this, they look forward to abundance of blessing, a lot of descent, long life and prosperous as well.

As recently conducted by one of the Pakpahan’s family of Pematang Siantar on September 28,2011. The Pakpahan family relocating the bones of their forefather named Mr.MS. Pakpahan (Oppung Muller Doli) at the public cemetery. The grave it self has been 33 years old. That means, the deceased Mr.MS Pakpahan was death since 33 years ago.

The ceremonies were starting with a short devotional lead by a church Pastor and attended by whole family and relatives. The re-digging is then starting by family representatives which appointed by whole family members to present the group of sons, the group of daughters and also the group of uncles (Hula-hula).

The representative starts to re-dig the grave as symbolic alternately and then finished by the workers.

Once the bones has shown up, the group of daughters will collect it out all from the grave, put on a place called as anduri/tampi (traditional goods made of bamboo) and then passed it to the group of Hula-hula, as they have the right to put it into a small box made of wood. And usually, after taken out from the grave, the bones will keep in church before enter to the Tambak / Tugu.

The Pakpahan’s family then bring the boxes to Pangaribuan, North Tapanuli and enter it into a family’s Tugu/Tambak.

By watching this video, you can see how the Mangokkal Holi custom ceremonies happening.

(rewritten by: Maria S & B.Situmorang/Gobatak)

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