~ Immerse yourself in this traditional Fijian ceremony ~
When embarking on a Fiji holiday, experiencing local customs is a high priority on many holiday-goers lists. From participating the traditional Meke or cooking up a storm in a Fijian cooking class, there is something to satisfy everyone. For adults, enjoying the traditional kava ceremony will be a definite highlight of your Fiji vacation. In Fiji, a kava ceremony is a ritual in every village you will enter as well as a key feature on your Fiji resort ‘things to do list’.
It is commonplace for Fijian families and friends to gather together on a daily basis and enjoy kava together. It is what Fijians commonly refer to as ‘Fiji time’.
What is Kava?
Kava, otherwise known as yaqona, or quite simply, grog, is the traditional national drink of Fiji. It is a mildly narcotic and sedative drink made from the crushed root of the yaqona (pronounced yang-GO-na) strained with water. It is served in a large communal bowl as part of the traditional kava ceremony. When drunk, it creates a pleasant, numb feeling around the mouth, lips and tongue, as well as a sense of calm and relaxation.
Yet despite the naturally calming effects of the drink, the true experience lies in partaking in the complete kava ceremony. Kava is traditionally served as part of a ceremonial atmosphere, most commonly in welcoming guests into a village and on important occasions.
So if you are participating in a kava ceremony, here are some pointers on kava ceremony etiquette. Fijian people are notoriously friendly, welcoming and accepting, so they will undoubtedly assist you through the process.
Kava ceremony etiquette
Firstly, as a participant at a kava ceremony, your hosts expect you to dress respectfully and modestly. It is tradition to present the leader (your host) with a Kava root, which you can find at any Fijian market. This will show your true understanding of the Fijian culture and the significance of the kava ceremony.
The kava ceremony focuses around the communal Kava tanoa (bowl). Guests sit in a circle around the bowl which is placed in front of the leader. The ceremony commences with the actual production of the kava. The plant is pounded and the pulp placed into a cloth sack and mixed with water. The end result is a brownish coloured liquid – the Kava gold. It is then strained and ready for drinking.
How to receive Kava in a Kava ceremony
Your host will offer kava as high tide (full cup) or low tide (half cup). When presented with the kava, clap once and yell ‘Bula!’ (Fijian for hello). Drink the kava in one gulp if possible, clap three more times and end with the word ‘Mathe’.
The affects of Kava
Finally, once you have finished your kava, you will feel a delightful sense of serenity and calm, with a slight numbness around your mouth, lips and tongue. A kava ceremony is always fun and full of laughter and smiles. Is is a true indicator of Fijian culture. This is why Fijians often serve kava to settle an argument or to make peace between villagers.
At Royal Davui, the kava ceremony occurs regularly throughout the week. Check the activity timetable for days and times.