Celebration: Igorot Night

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KANYAW Babayas

(Igorot Traditional Wedding Ceremony)

By Igorot Austria


The KANYAW Babayas was the cultural presentation of Igorot Austria during the Igorot Night

Part I

Kanyaw – Brief explanation of the Babayas



a song /chant performed by a leader during a public program. It is usually a way of saying welcome remarks (after the uggayam, explanation follows)

Introduction – Among the mountaineers, the highlanders or the Igorots, solidarity of the different provinces is observed in an occasion like a wedding celebration. Every province is represented and they come to attend in their own native costume. (Participants represent their province of origin. Each costume will be described with a brief introduction of each province, Benguet, Ifugao, Mountain Province, Apayao, Abra and Kalinga). The provinces are also called with an acronym, BIMAAK.

Digdigwe - It is a song and dance that rhymes wherein every verse starts with the word digdigwe. The hands are knit together at the back to form one column side by side. They chant in chorus as they move forward, backward and sideward. (Explanation Follows)

Preparation and Thanksgiving of Harvesting Time – (all representatives of the different Cordillera Provinces). Babayas is usually performed after harvest time. Everybody cooperates for the preparation of the wedding. The community help in pounding rice, gathering fruits and vegetables and other are being gathered too.

Courtship – (The participants of the Harvesting will remain at the stage as they act as background.)

Doc-ong – If a male is in love with a lady, he tries his best to gather the best quality of fuel wood and bring it to the house of the lady in the presence of her parents.

In return the female will bring rice to the house of the man to demonstrate that she loves the man too.

The spiritual life of the Cordillera people is very much affected by music, chants and dances. The spiritual power of music and dance is part of the peoples everyday life. The dances are of different kinds depending on the purpose. The instruments used in dancing are originally hand-made by the villagers called “gongs,” which last for years and can be inherited.

Tuppaya – Danced by the newly wed couple. It is a “Courtship Dance.”

Eagle Dance – The dance originated in Eastern Bontoc. Three males play the instruments while a pair of dancers follows the music. It is usually performed during thanksgiving and wedding ceremonies.

Part II

Traditional Wedding Celebration – Weddings are the most important public worship of all. The families sit before both man and woman while they listen to promises of fidelity and heritage that pass between the newly wed couple. The families sanctify the occasion with elaborate rituals and prayers. The leaders of the community with high morality will perform the rituals, in the form of chanting to proclaim and declare the marriage, which starts the night before celebration until the day of the wedding. Attendance is both a right and duty of both side of the bride and groom. Otherwise the rituals are imperfect if the required participant is absent. Trial marriage and divorce is not acceptable in the customary law of the Igorots. If such is encountered, she or he is an outcast in the community.

· positioning of the couple

· positioning of both parents

1.     Palakis

2.     Giving of Gifts –

· Rice

· Rice Wine

· others like beads, jewelries, money, etc.

3.     Prayers for the gifts: The night before the day of the wedding celebration, the parents or grandparents of the newly-wed will declare the land inheritance in the form of chanting. This is confirmed by any in the audience, who is knowledgeable of the landmarks. Any inheritance pronounced during the wedding in accordance with customary laws cannot be withdrawn. Among the Igorots the land as inheritance should not be sold but should be passed on by the family from generation to generation. Land is like “life” so the Igorots try to rekindle their respect and protection of their land, a precious gift from God as they believe.

Aside from the voluntary contribution of the community to the day of celebration, gifts are given too during the day of the wedding celebration. Every head of the family in the community, employed or unemployed, contribute. It is her or his social obligation to give a gift(s) to the newly wed couple and also to members of the family living in another place. Giving of gifts (supon) is in cash or in kind. It used to be rice, rice wine in a Chinese jar and others like beads, jewelries, money and etc. The rice wine will be served to everybody.

Ritual (gongs will be played every after ritual, explanation of their prayers)

4.     Igorot melody of the Newly Wed Couple

5.     Salibe by both parents

6.     Tribal War Dance

7.     Ifugao Dance

Chorus – Nan Layad nen Sikhafan



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