Nias People And The Way They Upholding The Cultural Heritage


Nias is another Indonesian ethnic group that live in North Sumatra, formerly in Nias Island.

Nias island is one of significant island for tourism destination relating with its surfing spot, Nias traditional house and a famous Lompat Batu Nias or stone jumping initiation.

Nias people call themselves as “Ono Niha”. Ono means an offspring, Niha means human, and Nias Island as “Tanö Niha”, which Tano is land. We can predict this etymology as human offspring that live on earth.

Nias People, until this day, is still living under the strict rules of their culture. It Fondrakö is the main rule that Nias people hold for the way of living regarding every aspect of life from their birth till death.

Nias people in the past was lived under megalithic culture, which proven by the historical legacies in the form of carvings on the boulders that are still found in the interior areas of this island today.

Most of Nias people hold Protestant Christianity as their religion, with the minor people who have Islam for their faith that usually coming from the immigrant from elsewhere from Indonesia. However, either Christian or Muslim, those are just a symbol for them to have label on religion. In fact, most Nias people are still hold their traditional religion. They are still celebrating their own feast relating their indigenous culture and tradition of their spiritual expression.

Nias people have 12 castes or Kasta, where “Balugu” is the highest state level of their Kasta. To reach that Balugu, someone have to held a very big feast and inviting thousands people to come while serving thousands pork for the guests and it lasts for days.

For Nias people, as they belief in their traditional myth they were born from tree of life called “Sigaru Tora`a” which was located in place named Tetehöli Ana’a”. But some Nias educated man said that the origin Nias people was come from Indochina or West China or even Vietnam. In other words, it refers to that slanted eyes and white skin people as Nias look alike.

Nias best known for its remarkable diversities of festivals and celebration relating their culture and tradition. For instance, war dances, stone jumping initiation, the music, their typical house and so on.

Stone jumping or Fahombo is one of particular initiation from Nias, which refers to a manhood ritual that sees young men leaping over two meter stone towers to their fate. This initiation is doing by a man who wore complete traditional wardrobe leaping for a stone for about 2 meters high. It was said that this initiation was created for testing the physical and mental health in male adolescents approaching their adulthood. Every man who obliged to join a war it should pass this stone jumping ritual.

The jumper is not just have to cross a pile of the stone, but he also must have techniques when he is landing, because if he landed with the wrong position, it can cause muscle injury or broken bones. If someone have pass this ritual, the family and relatives will held Sukuran or saying grace for their son is pass the initiation by inviting other relatives or make a feast for those who are rich. After passing this initiation a man is considered appropriate to get marry or defend their village or join to attack an enemy village.

Overall, Nias people are succeed to bring their own cultural heritages up to the world as symbol that they are live by those cultures and still being exist to face the modernity.

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