Make sure to check out her short video on the kava presentation ceremony at the end of this article.
Etiquette and customs when visiting a traditional Fijian village:
First, you must be invited to visit a village, but any resort can get you an invitation. And you’ll have no trouble knowing when you’re driving through a village, because speed bumps–known as “sleeping policemen”—are a reminder to slow down and be respectful.
Do observe these customs when your visit a village:
- Dress modestly. Someone told me that if you want to “run around half naked,” you should go to Tahiti–the French might think it’s cool, but the Fijians do not.
- Women should keep their shoulders covered.
- Remove your hat–only the chief may wear a hat.
- Bring a gift of kava roots to the chief. You will find bunches of them for sale in markets, but if you are going with an organized group the leader will take care of this detail.
- Remove your shoes before entering a bure (house).
- In a bure, women should sit with legs to the side, and no one should point their feet at a chief or kava bowl.
- Welcoming ceremonies feature the slightly narcotic drink kava, or yaqona as it’s known in Fiji.
- If offered kava, clap once with cupped hands, take the bowl, say “bula,” drink it down in one gulp, hand the cup back to same person, and clap three times while saying “vinaka” (thanks). Whew!
- Never touch someone’s head.
- Ask before taking photographs.
- Do not point.
- Do not raise your voice. Speak softly.
- Do not admire a possession because the person will feel obligated to give it to you.