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"
semoga diberkati anak ini ya Allah"