Gender and Religion

Historically, all men became baki priests, or mumbaki, but only certain men do so today, likely due to the influence of modern ideologies and Christianity (Barton, 1940). Mumbaki lead baki ritual ceremonies, reciting the names of gods, other spiritual beings, and ancestral spirits, reciting myths, becoming possessed by the spiritual beings, and making offerings to them. Mumbaki also perform divination rituals. The rituals are performed for most significant life events and practices.

Mama-o, or baki female priestesses, play important roles in ritual practice, particularly that of diviners and spirit mediums. They also pray during some baki rituals, sometimes in a separate location from the mumbaki. While the mama-o's role is complementary to the mumbaki' s, women's role in the baki religion is more limited than men's. Mama-o are highly respected as religious leaders, but a higher status is usually accorded to the mumbaki. Boys and girls learn to become baki leaders by observation during ritual ceremonies and through apprenticeship, often from their father or mother. If a mumbaki has no sons, in some cases he may teach his daughter to become a mumbaki. Almost equal numbers of men and women attend baki rituals. Exceptions are during the harvest feast, at which men are the primary participants since most women are in the fields harvesting rice, and when women are caring for small children. Male and female participants have different roles to play during baki, specific to the type of ritual being performed.

Catholic doctrine allows only men to become priests and only women to become nuns. Protestant religious leaders are male and female, though fewer are female in Ifugao. Men and women participate in Christian religious services, prayer sessions, and rituals, some of which take on aspects of the structural form of the baki ritual.

The pantheon of the baki religion consists of more than a thousand male and female gods, other male and female spiritual beings, and ancestor spirits (Barton, 1940; Lambrecht, 1962). The creator god is male and is accorded the greatest importance and status. The primary mediators between the greater god and human beings are a set of male gods, who have wives. Male and female ancestors of both husband and wife sponsoring a baki ritual are prayed to, and each are considered equally important, a reflection of the bilateral kinship system.

Pregnancy And Childbirth

Pregnancy And Childbirth

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