Fiji is known throughout the world for its fascinating culture and friendly natives. In fact, it is often said that Fiji is reputed to be one of the friendliest places on earth. Located in the South Pacific, Fiji is a group of over 300 islands, some 5,100 km southwest of Hawaii and 3,160 km northeast of Australia. Stretched over an area of roughly 1.3 million sq km, this island group is rated as one of the most beautiful places on the planet.
What makes Fiji so special aside from its gorgeous beaches and stunning lagoons is the unique blend of cultures found here. Indigenous Polynesian traditions meld seamlessly with Indian and European cultures, to create a distinct and wonderful culture that welcomes you with open arms and warm smiles. The culture in Fiji is communal in nature and great importance is given to family, the village and the clan to which you belong to.
Fiji Culture – Rituals
Rituals and customs also hold great importance in Fijian culture and this can be seen in the various ceremonies that are conducted throughout the many islands. The yaqona ceremony is a key ritual in Fiji today. A very important social observance, there are strict protocols to drinking it. Yaqona is also Fiji’s national drink and is believe to have medicinal qualities.
Fiji Culture – Dance
Dance is also a vital part of Fijian culture. Meke is a dance performance which incorporates music and dance to tell Polynesian legends and stories. Often preformed for tourists and guests, meke are also done on important occasions such as births, deaths, and marriages. Men, women and children all participate in a meke, with men usually performing with clubs and spears, while women perform graceful fan dances.
Fiji Culture – What not to do when visiting a village
If you are interested in visiting a Fijian village, here are some things you need to keep in mind.
–Dress modestly and do not wear revealing clothes such as shorts or halter/strapless tops.
–Do not wear a hat as it is a sign of disrespect to cover your head.
–Always remove your footwear before you enter any Fijian home or building.
–Speak in a soft gentle tone. A raised voice is interpreted as a sign of anger.
–It is also important that you stay with your assigned host and eat and drink what they offer you. Any refusal to do so is again treated as a mark of disrespect.
–If you spend a night at someone’s home, it is customary to give your host something in return for his generosity. A small gift is fine; however, cash gifts should be avoided.
–Although nearly everyone in Fiji speaks English, learning a few Fijian words will greatly please your host.