In the Sama wedding tradition, when a man wishes to get married, he informs his parents about it, to do the courting. Together with their relatives, they have to please the woman’s parents and relatives to get their approval.
If the woman and her parents accept the other party’s proposal, a “pagkawin” or formal engagement is celebrated. It is done in the houseboat locally called pelang or lepa with food served for the occasion.
The wedding ceremony starts with a fluvial parade with colorful banners hanging on the praus, dapangs, and vintas. Gongs, kulintangs, and other brass instruments are played in rhythmic sounds. Sama ladies dance on an improvised platform between two vintas amidst the shouting of approving relatives and visitors.
Early in the morning, the bride is brought to the wedding place where the ceremony will be conducted. During special occasions such as weddings, maligay serves as the centerpiece of the celebration. It is like a small house decorated with delicacies like native cookies, cakes, piyanggang, fruits, and the like.
Maligays are often utilized by Tausug, Sama, Badjao, and other Muslim groups in Sulu, Tawi-Tawi, and mainland Mindanao. The word maligay is from the Malay word “mahligay,” which means “castle or palace.”
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