Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Back to the Root

Ahh...it has been a long time since my last entry here. I have been very busy with work, personal project and my son's mangupa-upa ceremony. Maybe I can elaborate a little bit about a ceremony called mangupa-upa since I am quite thrilled to have gone through this ancient ceremony. So it is time to write a super long entry [haha].

To begin with I am the 4th generation of Mandailing immigrants in West Malaysia. The first immigrant was my great-great grandfather by the name of Jisat b. Raja Kinayah. So I have been told that Raja Kinayah lived and died in Sumatera but his son Jisat migrated to Perak and died in Malaya (former name of Malaysia). Jisat had a son named Karima who was my grandfather (I've never met him) and a father to Zainuddin (my Ayah). We are all of the marga Nasution (means the clan of Nasution). Mandailing lineage system is patrilineal. Normally Mandailing men will state their marga after their names. So my name should be Muhammad Syamsulfaiz Zainuddin Nasution. But my father did not register our marga with the National Registration Department. I also didn't think about registering our marga for my son's name. What a shame...

There are several well-known clans in Mandailing such as Nasution, Lubis, Harahap, Siregar, Hasibuan, Daulay and Panggabean (there are a lot more !). In my research I discovered the word marga derives from the Sanskrit word varga which means colour. OK, if I were to write about Mandailing here this post will be very lengthy. Maybe I will dedicate a few postings after this on my knowledge about Mandailing.

Right.. talking about mangupa-upa. This ceremony looks like a 'kenduri kesyukuran' in Malaysia. However in its original context mangupa-upa is a special ritual of the Mandailing to summon the tondi or spirit of life in order to strengthen a person's soul and spirit especially of a newborn baby or newly married couple or newly appointed official. It can be said the motive of mangupa-upa is that with the guidance, prayer and support from the eldest and the family members it is hoped the upa-upa will have added courage and strength to face his/her life or rather new phase of life or to carry out his/her new task.

How the ritual was done? The main agenda of my mangupa-upa was to celebrate my newborn son and the new mother....and me as a new dad of course !. We were the upa-upa. So on the day of the event the three of us dressed up to our best. The elders were called to lead the ritual. In my father's family the only elder is my late grandmother's youngest sister who I call Nenek Alang. We were presented with 7 dishes to symbolise prosperity. The ritual began with Nenek Alang cutting through an egg with a black thread. A pinch of the egg was then swapped into my son's mouth with a prayer that his oratory skills and spoken words in future will bring wealth and luck to him and his family. My wife and I were also asked to eat a pinch of the same egg. Then we were presented with a plate of yellow glutinous rice and were required to taste it too. The plate then was circled above our heads whilst Nenek Alang prayed for our soul to be firmer, spirit to be stronger as well as more wealth and prosperity in the future.

The prayer in my mangupa-upa was not the original Mandailing prayer for tondi but a normal doa in Islamic way. My mother explained to me prior to this ritual that the ritual is just for fun but the essence of it is a prayer to Allah. In fact we had a marhaban session and kenduri doa selamat after the mangupa-upa ritual.

After the recital of doa by my father came the last step of the ritual...which is the best part of it. We were invited to finish the 7 dishes. The taste...only God knows. Sumptuous and delicious home made traditional dishes. Yummy !

The experience of this mangupa-upa ritual really gave me a sense of belonging and pride. It is indeed a sweet trip back to the root of my identity.

semoga diberkati anak ini ya Allah"

Tuesday, March 11, 2008


I would like to correct my wrong usage of the terms in previous posting title "Era of Knowledge". The parliamentary seat is for Dewan Rakyat (lower house of Parliament) and state seat for Dewan Undangan Negeri (state legislative assembly).
Thank you to the first reader of this humble blog, my friend Mr cohong. I stand corrected.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Era of Knowledge

My country has just finished her 2008 General Election. This is the process where citizens cast their vote on the candidate contesting for parliamentary (Dewan Negara) and state (Dewan Rakyat) seats. The result is shocking. It is even called a political tsunami of Malaysia. The popular ruling coalition (now not that popular) has lost their 2/3 majority in parliament and have to form government with simple majority only. This has never happened since 1969. Over 1/3 of the parliamentary seats are now with the opposition coalition. What is more shocking, even Selangor the richest state in Malaysia is now ruled by a party in the opposition coalition. This is a landmark in the history of politic in Selangor. I am not a political analyst but my share of thought here is on the selection of contesting candidates in Selangor. Obviously the outgoing Chief Minister has overlooked an important aspect i.e the voting trend in the urbanised Selangor. The intelligence survey conducted by them months before the election revealed that people favour the character and competency of candidate rather than the political party it represents. Majority of young middle class voters in Selangor just don't care anymore on which party should win rather they choose who should be the most competent MP to them. Comparing the list of candidates between the ruling coalition and opposition coalition in Selangor clearly shows the oversight made by the ruling coalition. Most of candidates for ruling coalition were picked because of their loyalty to the Chief Minister/Prime Minister rather than whether they are liked by the people or posses necessary academic qualification suitable to develop an industrialised state. This is an era of knowledge. People are now knowledge-centric. A candidate for a parliamentary seat should posses the highest level of qualification or outstanding intellectual ability to lead the now more knowledgable and open society. The opposition coalition seems to be more aware of this trend and already fielded their candidacy with highly qualified professional and well liked individuals. This argument on the importance of academic credential and intellectual ability may not be a major factor for the swing in the vote. But it could be one of the reasons.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

By Way of Introduction

I have been reading other peoples' blog for the past 2 years . I read blogs about politics, economy, philosophy, family, arts, history, lifestyle, food ...the list is never ending. Blogging is really a lifestyle now. Indeed I have seen emails from new friends who not only give out their telephone and office details but also their blog addresses. It amazes me how blogging has contributed in changing the social relations of people. For professional and amatuer writers blogging is the fastest way of communicating their ideas to the public, cutting short the hassle of submission and editing process if they submit their writings to magazine or newspaper company. For the reserved and introvert (like me I guess) blogging is the avenue to be sincere (in this context sincerity means to just speak your mind and dont care about others) and to speak out. For the peoples with views and ideas, I think they eat, sleep and shit while blogging...I have read so many postings about this I tell you !

Well anyway, the reason for this blog (do I need a reason?) is to share my feelings, thoughts, discovery, excitement, stupidity and comments in my quest for knowledge. Very abstract right?...of course, since I dont have any idea what to write next in this blog. Even at the time of typing a sentence in this post I didnt have any idea on what the next sentence is going to be.

But to be sure there will be something to be shared in this blog. Salam


Related Posts with Thumbnails