Merdang Merdem or annual work is a Karo’s society celebration in Karo District, North Sumatera. This festival is usually done after the planting season over and also as a gratitude to God. Besides, the Merdang Merdem also use as a pray to God for a great harvest later.
The time to do this tradition is varied, based on the area. For example, in Munte sub-districts, the society celebrate the Merdang Merdem on the 26th day of Beraspati Merdem (a Karo’s calendar) or in July. The celebration is taken for 6 days long, with different philosophies among the days. Here is the explanation:
Day One or Cikor-kor
Is the beginning of the Merdang Merdem. This day is noticed as the day to seek kor-kor, a species of insect that live under ground or under the tree. At that day, the people go to field and run for kor-kor as their meal at first day.
Day Two or Cikurung
Just like the first day of Merdang Merdem, this second day also marked by chasing kurung in field. Kurung is an animal that live under wet field, usually eat by the Karo.
Day Three or Ndurung
This third day begin with seek nurung, or a call for fish, in river. On this day, all of the people eat fish, usually they eat a local fish, such as nurung (fish) goldfish, catfish or sebakut, and eel.
Day Four or mantem or motong
One day before the main celebration, the people slaughtered buffalo, or pig for Christian.
Day Five or Matana
Matana means the main celebration. On this day, people gathering among the colleague and family. Many dishes also served to the people, such as cikor-kor, cikurung, ndurung, and mantem. They are all happy. The concentration of the celebration is held in a plaza called los. The celebration also enlivened by a traditional dance and guro-guro aron tambour.
Day Six or Nimpa
On this day, the villagers cook cimpa, or lepat, the traditional cake from Karo. Cimpa is made from floor, brown sugar, and grinned coconut. Cimpa is served after the man course. For Tanah Karo people, Cimpa is replaced with ngerires or lemang.
Day Seven or Rebu
This is the last day of Merdang Merdem, where people stay in their house before start their activities tomorrow.