Adorned with colorful headdresses, locals perform a traditional Fijian Meke, sharing ancient legends through dance and music. Witness this cultural ritual in areas such as Pacific Harbour and Beqa Island, where you may also participate in a kava ceremony and a lovo feast.
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Although Fiji has palm-lined beaches and coral reefs like many other parts of the South Pacific, it’s often the people of the islands, rather than the scenery, that make it memorable. Their friendliness to visitors is well-known, expressed with a pleasant bula (welcome) and with an invitation to join them for a bowl of tongue-numbing kava.
A Fiji vacation promises a lot of enjoyable possibilities: exquisite scuba diving, lovely natural surroundings and an appealing range of places to stay—from secluded, eye-poppingly expensive resorts to pleasant guesthouses on the beach to simple accommodations with local villagers.
Fiji Culture at a glance
From their location at the crossroads of the Pacific, Fiji offers an exotic and complementary blend of various cultures: Melanesian, Polynesian, Indian, European and Chinese which is reflected in Fijian customs, language, food, architecture and ambiance.
Fiji is probably the only place on earth where you can truly experience the perfect harmony between a land, its people and a melting-pot culture that has remained virtually unchanged for centuries.
The most ubiquitous ritual is the kava or ‘yaqona’ (pronounced yan-gona) ceremony whereby Fiji’s national drink, made from the root of the pepper tree, is used to welcome visitors as honored guests, christen babies, seal treaties or close business deals among other ceremonial and social uses.
Certain to fascinate is the firewalking ritual where Fijians walk barefoot over red-hot coals. It is truly one of the more spectacular sights in Fiji. The Fijians perform this at hotels on Viti Levu, or on the Island of Beqa where they were first given this gift according to legend. The Indians perform the firewalking as a Hindu religious observance.
Of course, no trip to Fiji would be complete without experiencing a colorful evening of traditional Fijian song and dance – ‘meke’ – by local villagers or resort island staff members.
The Fijian meke features both men and women in a program of traditional song and dance. The various provinces in Fiji have different dance routines. The meke usually depicts a story. The performances are quite colorful and participants wear traditional island costumes of printed bark cloth (tapa) and accessories woven from flowers and leaves. Musical accompaniment is provided Lali (drum carved from the bark of a tree) and a hollow bamboo pole beaten rhythmically on the ground.
The daily integration of these and other social and cultural traditions serve as a reminder that Fiji is more than an unspoiled tropical paradise, but a land where the past remains one of it’s most vibrant and precious national resources.
The Fijian people have their own customs and culture that are an integral part of their everyday life. To enter a Fijian village, one should seek permission from a Village Elder or be invited by one of the villagers. When entering a village there are some do’s and don’ts that are more in keeping with good taste than with custom:
Do dress modestly and comfortably.
You may want to bring some Yaqona (it symbolizes the giving of life) to present to the village. This is always appreciated.
When entering a bure (house) you should take your shoes off at the door to help keep the bure clean.
Fijians are very giving people, and this sometimes can work to their disadvantage – use common sense in taking food or family possessions. A good rule of thumb – it is better to give than to receive.
It is important to dress modestly when away from hotels and resorts and particularly when visiting a Fijian village.
Avoid wearing a hat in a village, it is considered an insult to the village chief. It is also insulting to touch someone’s head. It’s best to not wear shoes if visiting someone’s house.
When visiting a village it is customary to present an inexpensive gift of ‘yaqona’ or kava to the “Turaga Ni Koro”, the traditional head of the village.
Be prepared to shake hands and answer personal questions as to where you are from, whether married; and, if so, how many children.
Fiji is truly one of the Happiest Places on Earth.
How would you like to explore Fiji?
For more information or to book your Trip-Of-A-Lifetime, contact Brad Martin at Anywhere Anytime Journeys.