Meranaw wedding today

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By Sorhaila Latip-Yusoph

Only a Meranaw

Monday, May 5, 2014


MARRIAGE between men and women in Muslim cultures is among the most controversial and talked about issues.

I still go with the idea that a marriage is not made in heaven but rather a human contract.

It is a human contract because both parties will have to agree on things including dowry and the festivities in the wedding ceremony.

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Many Muslim communities in Mindanao have different types of wedding ceremonies but Meranaws’ own version may be tagged simpler than those of other tribes.

I say this because in other tribal groups, weddings are celebrated in days if not weeks.

It is too hard for a groom to raise funds for the celebration alone.

In a Meranaw wedding, especially those of the religious Muslim Meranaws, weddings are made simpler than the traditional ones.

A wedding is usually celebrated for a day or just for few hours in a day.

What is beautiful though is the process done before and during the ceremony.

Before the wedding ceremony takes place, the giving of the dowry or ‘Mahr’ among Muslim Meranaws is done during a ‘Dialaga’ (engagement) or the ‘Kapamaton sa Tamok’ (giving the dowry).

These events are usually done together but others make separate dates.

The ‘Mahr’ or dowry in the Islamic tradition is usually specified and agreed upon by both parties.

In the Meranaw community, dowry varies according to family traditions and social status.
Interestingly though, there are families who won’t measure intentions of the groom with that of his capability to give the dowry.

During the wedding, the groom’s family will have to prepare the groom for the ‘Kawing’ or the wedding ritual where the groom will confirm his intentions of marrying the bride in front of the bride’s father, the officiating Imam and other relatives and friends as witnesses.

He will confirm his intention to marry and shall accept the marriage bestowed on him by the bride’s father.

After the ritual on ‘Kawing,’ the groom shall proceed to the bride’s sanctuary (usually her home) to perform the ‘Batal.’

‘Batal’ is the other ritual performed that will signify affirmation to the marriage.

After which, the bride is formally married to the groom.

The ritual is usually the touching of a bride’s forehead or a simple handshake.

The couple will then proceed to a reception where the relatives and friends of the bride and groom are waiting.

In some families where rituals are simpler, the reception is done at home by accepting visitors as they come.

Others, usually big families, would have the receptions in different function halls.

In the celebration of the wedding, speeches are delivered before and after the ‘Kawing.’

The speeches before it are usually about the marrying parties.

Here, the groom’s family selects a representative who will talk about the groom’s kin then followed by the bride’s representative.

This is usually called the ‘Kasalsila’ or the presentation of the genealogy of the bride and the groom.

In some weddings where there is a strict observance of the Islamic rites, this ‘Kasalsila’ is not observed.

After the ‘Kawing,’ representatives from the bride and groom’s families or friends will be selected to deliver inspirational messages or sometimes a ‘Washiat’ (preaching) from religious leaders.

These messages are all about keeping the marriage, mutual understanding and respect to one another.
Meranaw weddings today have evolved.

We seldom see traditional weddings because of Islam’s influence and modern concept of weddings.

What is relevant now is the observance of the Islamic rites during the wedding.

Nonetheless, what we all need to remember in rituals like this is the importance of the bond.

The sanctity of a marriage lies on how the couples will respect and love each other for life.

[E-mail: sorlatipyusoph@gmail.com]

Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on May 06, 2014.

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