For the Batak people, the Sumatran tiger is highly respected. Once when a tiger was killed in the Jambi area, the Batak people who lived there wrapped it in ulos cloth and performed a traditional ritual to bury it.
The tiger is an animal that is highly respected by the Tapanuli people. Even in villages close to forests, people are usually afraid to say the word tiger. People often say it as “Ompungi”, which means grandfather or great-grandfather.
Even in Mandailing, if we dare to say the word tiger even though we are telling a story, it is the same as inviting ‘ompungi’ to come to our village.
Why is the tiger so highly respected by the Batak people?
There are several versions that tell the legend of this tiger in Batak land. One version says that it originated from the descendants of the Batak King who gave birth to male and female twins, namely Si Boru Pareme and Saribu Raja.
Even though they are twins, they fall in love with each other and have an incestuous relationship. As a result of his actions, both of them were then driven out of the village. Si Boru Pareme was banished to the forest and Saribu Raja was exiled to another place.
In the forest, Si Boru Pareme lives alone. Every day he mourned his life, which made him sick. Raja Uti (his eldest brother who was also exiled to the forest because of his physical disability since birth) became pity. King Uti then sent a tiger to help Si Boru Pareme. provide food and keep Si Boru Pareme safe from wild animals in the forest.
The story says that actually King Uti, who had mandraguna powers, was transformed into a tiger. King Uti, who was born with a disability, turned into a tiger. However, because he is disabled, when he transforms into a tiger, he also looks like a lame tiger. That is why for Batak people the tiger is named Babiat Sitelpang or lame tiger.
Another version which is similar but slightly different. Si Boru Pareme and Saribu Raja have an incestuous relationship and make Si Boru Pareme pregnant. The two of them were then thrown into separate forests.
So, when he was thrown into the forest, Si Boru Pareme was approached by a tiger who was in pain because a bone from his prey stuck in his throat. The Boru Pareme felt pity. He then helped the tiger remove the bone.
Since then, there has been a close friendship between the two of them. The tiger, returned his gratitude by delivering the game to Si Boru Pareme’s place regularly. In fact, when Si Boru Pareme was about to give birth, this tiger was also the one who helped him.
Since Si Boru Pareme is friendly with the tiger, there is a kind of agreement that the tiger will not eat the offspring of Si Boru Pareme. The child born to Si Boru Pareme is named Raja Lontung. The nine children of Raja Lontung later became the big clan of the Batak tribe.
Since Si Boru Pareme is friendly with the tiger, there is an agreement that the tiger will not eat the offspring of Si Boru Pareme.
That is why in the past, when Batak people encountered tigers, our parents taught us not to be afraid, simply by saying, “Lontung do au Ompung! (I’m Lontung Grandpa),” then the tigers would not attack us.
This story lives on in the Batak culture for hundreds of years. To transform and materialize into social, cultural and local wisdom values.
In the past, when they wanted to enter the forest or open a farm, the Batak people first asked permission from Babiat Sitelpang, who was considered the ruler of the region. “Sattabi Ompung, lao mamolus hami hami di ingananmon (excuse me Ompung, we want to pass from your place),” is often said when passing through a forest.
The high respect the Batak people have for tigers makes the character of the tiger also identified with the character of the Batak people who are hard, helpful, protective, loyal to be friends, and symbolize strength.
The mossak or Batak martial art is reportedly also identified with fighting tigers.
Mandailing Batak ancestors admitted that tigers were quite civilized. He won’t bother anyone who can’t hurt. And many people have said that when he meets a tiger, we are better off keeping quiet than running. Because if we run, he will think we got it wrong.
And this tiger custom can be seen during the durian season in Mandailing. If we are watching the windfall at night waiting for the windfall to fall, we should not take all the results. We leave some for the tigers. If not, he will later roar from behind the jungle. Likewise, vice versa. If this tiger got there first, he wouldn’t take everything. He will leave a share for us.
The story from the Mandailing elders, if a tiger enters the village, it is usually because someone has committed a sin in the village. For example, if someone has committed adultery in a village, usually the tiger will roam the village for almost a week. Everyone who lived in the township knew about this.
That’s the legendary story about the tiger or the Sitelpang Pig in Batak land. Unfortunately, not many people know this story anymore and even more ironically, tigers are on the verge of extinction because they are constantly being hunted and the forest as their home is starting to disappear. One day this ‘toothless’ will only be a story without a form.
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