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The Burial Procession in Serdang

One implementation of customs especially in Serdang Sultanate and generally in Malay community of East Sumatra is the burial procession of the death. In the early days, Sultanate is the highest rule of Islamic societies in East Sumatra (now North Sumatra). Therefore, death ritual procession in the Muslim community can be seen in burial procession of Sultan. The purpose of the ritual of the Malay community in accordance with Islamic teachings is died in the state of Muslim. If the deceased is Sultan or nobles, so it have to note the following matters:

  • All women should to loosen their hair.
  • All men should wear white headband or white piece of cloth.
  • There are working groups "mourning", those who expert in poetry such as wailing, praising, and making words of sadness.
  • The limbs and joints of the dead body should be oiled.
  • The dead body is put on decorated kelemba (bed specifically for the dead).
  • The dead body is covered with cloth and placed Kris (or any metal objects) right on the stomach to make the remains get out quickly.
  • The dead body should not be left alone; there should be anyone in charge and always reading Holy Quran beside him. In addition, it is better to have any fragrant perfume or camphor.
  • Everyone should make coffins and rahap (trimmer coffin) together. However, rahap is only allocated to nobles.

The Bathing and Shrouding Procession

The arrangement that occurs in the Muslim and Malay tradition is the remains must be bathed first. Some required supplies are white cloth, toothpick, lemon water, soap, cotton, bedara leaves, combs, powder, atar oil, camphor, and sandalwood. All of these are put into two lemon cups, four plates, one tray, one sangai, and two pumpkins. The dead body is bathed in Islamic way. The person who will take on his lap should be in-law or any close relatives to keep the disgraces of dead body.

When the dead body has been bathed, the men who include in bathing should be given alms, which were:

  • White cloth, measuring 1.80 meters (2.2 yards), can be added or just shirt and clothes, is given to the person who takes on his lap.
  • White cloth, measuring 1.80 meters (2.2 yards) is given to "backing", i.e. the person who is backing the one who take on his lap.
  • One set tool, including lemon cups, ring, and white cloth measuring 1.80 meters (2.2 yards), is given to the "spacer", i.e. the the dead body cleaner.

After being bathed, the remain should be shrouded in white cloth, given cottons, wood, sandalwood, and camphor and incense. Furthermore, the remain is put in the coffin. The whole family, heirs, relatives, and friends, are given the last opportunity to see the remains. After this, the dead person is prayed (preferably by 40 people or more). The praying procession has term of such sorting out all the debts.

The King Died, the King Planting

If the death is the Sultan, the coffin is raised with the remain to the kelemba, so the ceremony of “Menjunjung Duli” can be performed. In accordance with the custom of the Malays "King died, King planting", the coronation of the next Sultan must immediately held and the remain of Sultan should not be buried before the new Sultan is chosen. The coronation of new Sultan is done in front of the death of the deceased Sultan. In the coronation ceremony of the Sultan, some things should be noted are:

  • The cloth which is same type with the cloth of crown.
  • Provided throne in the form 9 floors and everything are in yellow.
  • The total of maidens is 18 people with the details of 9 on the left side and 9 on the right side.
  • Provided Balai Pulut Kuning on large size and one hundred eggs.
  • One set of Tepung Tawar.
  • The three-storey yellow umbrella of Sultanate.
  • One set Regalia of Sultanate must be near to the coronation. The Regalia contain one long sword and one short sword, one long Keris and one short Keris, one spotted pepper and others.
  • One officer to read the letter of coronation.
  • One Punggawa of Sultanate to hold an umbrella.
  • One Punggawa of Sultanate to speak "Daulat Tuanku" 3 times loudly and followed with the voice of the people outside the Palace.
  • The artillery which will be sounded 13 times.
  • The procession of Tepung Tawar.
  • All the officers and nobles should sit together at the dais.

About Rahap

If the death is the Sultan or the nobles of Serdang Sultanate, it must be made rahap. is mulch or cover where they placed the coffin. Rahap is decorated and given the levels adjusted according to the social level who died. There are two types of rahap used in the tradition of Serdang Sultanate: Rahap 

  1. Rahap Raja Diraja, which is  specifically provided for the King or Sultan, who died (made up of 8 levels).
  2. Rahap Raja Dipaksi, which is specially  provided for the Crown Prince (4 levels) and the nobles of Sultanate (2 levels).

The total number of level must be even which represents the affliction. The sign of sadness shows in tonggol outside Palace. Tonggol is black square-shaped small banners. Above rahap there is Selembayung placed in the middle. Selembayung is a sign of the gender of the deceased. For male, the middle of selembayung is shaped hills, while for female, it has a recess.

The colors used in rahap are different based on family position of the in the Sultanate, which are:

  • Sultan, the color of rahap and umbrellas are yellow.
  • Sultan’s sons and Tengku in title of Little King, Crown Prince, and Tengku of Treasury, the color of rahap is yellow with black reins.
  • Other Tengku, the basic color of rahap is black with yellow lace.
  • Four Wazir or called “Wajir Berempat”, the basic color of rahap is white, while the umbrella is decorated in green lace, lace reach so green and yellow.
  • Tengku’s wives, the color of rahap is white.
  • Prince of Perbaungan, King of Denai, Wazir of Padang, and Wazir of Bedagai, the basic color of rahap is yellow with green reins and yellow tip.
  • Kejeruan Senembah, the basic color of rahap is white with blue lace.
  • Kejeruan Serba Jadi, the basic color of rahap is white with blue and yellow lace.
  • The eight Progenitors, the basic color of rahap is white with green lace.


After the Coronation ceremony of the new Sultan was completed, the deceased Sultan can be prepared to be buried. Funeral departing begins with the speech from the family thanking for all the assistance during the process, then the remain is ready to take off to the graveyard. The way to the cemetery should be done on foot, and women should not participate.

The equipments provided in the funeral procession are water of selabu rose, mattress, mat, umbrella, and pillow. There is Punggawa chosen to carry water, which could be sprayed on the tomb, and bring an umbrella and mat to seat of person who read talqin. Additionally provided bouquet of setalam flower that will be spread along the road to cemetery and above the tomb and also provided small change cash money for the charity to the medium. For scholars who read talqin, given the mattress, new pillow, and a penalkin with money in it. After the funeral procession is done, it held tahlil (reading a pray in group) at night for 3 consecutive days.

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