A Look at Fijian Culture
The scenic Fijian landscape of volcanic mountains and deep blue seas effortlessly transports visitors to an otherworldly Pacific dream realm. Beauty really is in the eye of the beholder here. Let’s take a closer look at the many facets of Fijian culture. For it’s worthwhile learning about the ancestors on whose land you stand before you take a holiday snap. Fijian culture is steeped in traditional myth and legend and its history is shared through many mediums including but not limited to; spoken word, dance and visual symbols. Read on to discover more…
Fiji is a multi-cultural nation hence it is inhabited by followers of many different faiths. Visitors will notice Christian churches, mosques, and Sikh and Hindu temples throughout the land. Visitors to Fiji are more than welcome to join the locals for Sunday worship; it’s a vibrant experience filled with locals singing, and conversing all dressed in their Sunday best. Even if you’re not religious it’s an interesting insight into the Fijian way of life.
The Fijian diet is rich in fresh seafood, tropical fruits, and local herbs and spices. Staple items include but are not limited to; tapioca, cassava and multitude of coconut products. Pork is a popular meal here and it’s not uncommon for the tempting aroma of a tasty pig on the spit to waft on by, well before you see it. Communal eating is widely practiced throughout local villages. The lovo is a distinct meal and a direct reflection of Fijian culture…
- Fijian Lovo – is a huge feast cooked in the earth. Similar to barbeque flavours, only more smoked. An earthen pit of is dug out and lined with stones and wooden planks. The fire is lit and this allows the rocks to be heated. The fire is then removed and local root vegetables are added, these will consist of cassava (tapioca), kumala (sweet potato), yam and taro – all of which are peeled. A shoulder or leg of pork and sometimes ham is wrapped in palm fronds and/or banana leaves and is placed into the pit first. Chicken, fish or lamb are also popular foods to go in a lovo oven. The vegetables that take less cooking time are placed on top. The pit is then covered by the earth and slow cooks for several hours. A ‘lovo’ feast can also indicate a ceremonial aspect to the dining experience.
Most Fijian people speak English very well, which is handy when travelling throughout this gorgeous island archipelago. Worth noting is the following pronunciation tips of the local dialect. For example, any word with a ‘d’ has an unwritten ‘n’ in front of it – Nadi is pronounced ‘Nandi’ and the delightful cold, marinated seafood dish kokoda, is ‘kokonda’. You put an ‘m’ before the ‘b’ in words like Toberua (Tomberua). Sigatoka is ‘Singatoka’. And a ‘c’ is pronounced ‘th’, as in the Mamanuca Islands.
Here are a few words that will come on handy during your Fijian holiday.
- Hello = Bula
- Thankyou = Vinaka
- Excuse Me = Tulou
- No = Sega (pronounced Senga)
- Yes = io (pronounced ee or)
Historically Significant Customs
- Warrior Dance – a Fijian warrior dance demonstration is a sight to behold, strong, mesmerising and unforgettable.
- Fire Walking – Beqa Island is home of the original Fijian fire walkers!
- The Meke – is a traditional song and dance performance that tells of Fijian legends, history, love stories and tales of the spirit world. There’s two groups in the performance, the orchestra and the dancers. Menfolk wear full warrior dress and the women wear traditional clothes, all are adorned in flower garlands in a mesmerising show.
- Arts & Crafts – Fiji’s arts and crafts reflect local adaptations of their Polynesian and Melanesian heritage. By tradition, the men’s and women’s crafts are separate. Pottery, wood carving, painting, coconut husking and jewelry making are popular pastimes for Fijian people.
- Kava Ceremony – Partake in a kava (yaqona) ceremony and learn about the significance it holds in Fijian culture. When mixed, a server will carry a cup (‘bilo’) to the chief guest, who must clap (‘cobo’) once before and three times after completely drinking the first cup. Kava gives the user a relaxed feeling and is a great social unifier.
Important Points of Reference
Before you visit Fiji please take note of the following customs…
- Carry a sulu (sarong) to cover bathing suits.
- Remove shoes when entering a person’s home.
- Wear modest clothing when visiting a local village.
- Remove your hat when entering a village, it’s considered disrespectful to the chief to keep it on.
- Most of all remember to smile – you’re on Fiji time!
Home Away from Home
Treasure Island is an iconic Fijian resort located within the stunning Mamanuca Islands. It’s a wonderful place to holiday and absorb the radiant and friendly energy that Fiji naturally permeates. Families will find that aside from the many water and land activities available, there’s a strong cultural ethos present throughout the resort. The local Fijian staff are very proud of their island home here and look forward to welcoming you soon. Take a look at some of the Fijian Inspired accommodation we have on offer below.