Culture of Fiji - history, people, clothing, traditions, women, beliefs, food, customs, family
Relations between ethnic Fijians (we will call them Fijians for short) and Fiji Indians . autochthonous Fijians, including their culture and language. A glance at. Fiji has three official languages under the constitution): English, Fijian and Hindi. Fijian is . The relation between Fiji Hindi and Standard Hindi is similar to the relation between Afrikaans and Dutch. an island with a Polynesian- influenced culture that was incorporated as a dependency into the Colony of Fiji in Unlike the settler colonisation of Australia, the British largely respected the language and culture of the native peoples when they established their relationship.
On other occasions, women may be dressed in a chamba, also known as a sulu i ra, a sulu with a specially crafted matching top. There are many regional variations throughout Fiji. Residents of the village of Dama, in Bua Province Fiji wear finely woven mats called kutamade from a reed. While traditional and semi-traditional forms of dress are still very much in use amongst indigenous Fijian culture, there is a greater influence for Western and Indian Fashion in urban areas as in neighboring developed nations.
Traditions and ceremonies[ edit ] See also: Fijian traditions and ceremoniesTabuaand Kava Etiquette in indigenous Fijian ceremony is rather intricate depending on the function as various formalities and presentations which do several things; firstly it shows respect between two communal groups, strengthen tribal and family ties and reinforce social, tribal and family ties. Various items are used in ceremony and surrounded by ceremony, Kavaknown in Fiji as yaqona, is Fiji's national drink.
Traditionally, it was used only in important ceremonies. Nowadays, it is a social beverage. There is a strict protocol associated with yaqona drinking. One should clap once, clasping the hands, take the cup, and drink the yaqona in a single draft before returning the cup to the bearer. Another highly prized item in ceremony is the tabua or Whale's tooth, other items also the use of tapa cloth masi and mats are also used traditionally in ceremony.
In modern day, practices such as the bulubulu ceremony which acts as a mediation between two people, a victim and offender will incorporate the kava and tabua into the ritual. The Sawau tribe of Beqa are noted for their ability to walk on white hot stones without being burned. There is an ancient myth about how an ancestor of the Sawau tribe was given this power by a spirit god in exchange for his life, after the god was captured by the man who was fishing for eels.
Fijian food and Polynesian cuisine The cuisine of Fiji in pre-colonial times consisted of root cropsvegetablesand fruitsas well as various land animals such as wild pigand various birds.
The coastal tribes would have had the same, but also had a large amount of local seafood. These would have been prepared with local herbs and spices on wood fire rock ovens.
Most cooking areas were located in the center of house so the smoke would repel insects and strengthen the roof thatching. Another popular method of cooking, which is still used today, is the lovo which is an earth oven  — a fire made on in a pit in the ground lined with heat-resistant stones. When the stones are hot, food wrapped in banana leaves are placed in the pit, covered with soil and left to cook before being exhumed and eaten.
Dishes cooked this way include palusami, parcels of taro leaves saturated with coconut milkonionsand sometimes tinned meat.
Languages of Fiji
Modern Fijian Cuisine is rather diverse with great influence from Indian cuisine and spices. When these are applied to local traditional dishes, it makes for interesting eating. European, Indian, and Chinese variants of cuisine, along with traditional foods, are commonplace in most, if not all households in Fiji.
Architecture[ edit ] A bure kalou, a sketch done in the early s. In Old Fiji, the architecture of villages was simple and practical to meet the physical and social need and to provide communal safety. The houses were square in shape and with pyramid like shaped roofs,  and the walls and roof were thatched and various plants of practical use were planted nearby, each village having a meeting house and a Spirit house.
The spirit house was elevated on a pyramid like base built with large stones and earth, again a square building with an elongated pyramid like  roof with various scented flora planted nearby.
The House of Representatives had twenty-two seats reserved for Fijians, twenty-two for Indo-Fijians, and eight for all the other ethnic groups.
The Senate was appointed by the Council of Chiefs, the prime minister, the leader of the opposition, and the Council of Rotuma.
Intwo military coups overthrew Fiji's democratic institutions, supposedly in the interests of the indigenous population. Power was handed over to a civilian government, and the constitution of provided that the prime minister and president would always be ethnic Fijians. Inthe constitution was revised to grant more power to the other ethnic groups, ensure the separation of church and state, guarantee equality before the law for all citizens, and encourage voting across ethnic lines.
The appointment of the majority of senators by the Council of Chiefs was meant to safeguard the rights and privileges of the indigenous peoples. Inan Indian-led political party won the first general election under the new constitution and an ethnic Indian became the prime minister.
This situation led to an attempted coup in the year Leadership and Political Officials. There are ethnically-based political parties as well as those that cross ethnic divides. The Fijian Association, an ethnic Fijian party established informed the core of the Alliance Party, a coalition of conservative ethnically-based political organizations.
The Federation Party grew out of conflict between Indo-Fijian cane farmers and foreign agricultural interests that culminated in a sugar-cane farmers' strike in Inthe labor movement founded its own multi-ethnic Fijian Labour Party. Ina multiethnic socialist coalition was overthrown by the military. These parties have continued to vie for election, although in the constitution of was abrogated as part of a military takeover after an attempted civilian coup.
Social Problems and Control. Violent crime, alcohol and drug abuse, juvenile delinquency, unwanted pregnancy, and poor health are the major social problems. They have increased in frequency and severity as a result of migration to urban centers, where work is hard to find and traditional social restraints are frequently absent, and due to the inability of the economy to provide an adequate standard of living.
Theft and assault are the major crimes. The high court, a court of appeals, and a supreme court constitute the core of the justice system. The chief justice of the high court and some other judges are appointed by the president.
The Republic of Fiji Police Force was established in as the Fijian Constabulary and now has two thousand members, over half of whom are ethnic Fijians and 3 percent of whom are female. It is responsible for internal security, drug control, and the maintenance of law and order. The police force has been invited to contribute to United Nations peacekeeping activities in Namibia, Iraq, the Solomon Islands, and several other countries. There are prisons in Suva and Naboro.
The Republic of Fiji Military Forces was established to defend the nation's territorial sovereignty. It is staffed almost exclusively by ethnic Fijians, some of whom have received training in Australia, New Zealand, and Great Britain.
In the absence of exterior military threats, this force has assumed some policing and civic duties as well as serving abroad under the United Nations. It also fulfills a ceremonial function on state occasions. Since the army has on three occasions for a limited period of time assumed political control of the nation.
A naval squadron was formed in to protect the country's territorial waters and marine economic zone. After the military coups ofthe size of the armed forces was doubled. Social Welfare and Change Programs Traditionally, social welfare was the responsibility of religious and private organizations rather than the government, but development plans have consistently stressed the need for primary health care, drinkable water, sanitary facilities, low-cost housing, and electricity for low-income and rural families.
Other programs include assistance to poor families, the elderly, and the handicapped; rehabilitation of former prisoners; social welfare training; and legal aid services.
The Department of Social Welfare runs a boys' center, a girls' home, and three old-age homes. Nongovernmental Organizations and Other Associations Voluntary and religious organizations provide services ranging from kindergartens for poor children to care for the blind, the handicapped, and the cognitively disadvantaged.
Hindu and Muslim religious organizations provide services to their own communities. Secular organizations also help deal with the country's social welfare needs. Men associate primarily with other men, and women's activities are performed mostly with other women.
A woman's traditional role is to be a homemaker, a mother, and an obedient wife.
Men are the primary breadwinners, although women also contribute to the family economy. Ethnic Fijian women fish, collect shell-fish, weed gardens, and gather firewood; men clear land for gardens, hunt, fish, build houses, and mow the grass around the home and village. Among Indo-Fijians, men and women lead largely separate lives. Women help in the cultivation of rice and sugar. Inthe labor force was 76 percent male and 24 percent female, with women working primarily in education and health.
Eighty-two percent of legislative and high civil service positions were held by men, along with a similar proportion of executive jobs in the private sector. The Relative Status of Women and Men. The Fijian and Indo-Fijian societies are strongly patrifocal, and a woman is formally subordinate to her husband in regard to decision making.
Unless a woman is of high rank, she has little influence in her village. Although girls do better than boys in schools, fewer women than men receive a higher education. Rising poverty levels have forced many women into the lowest ranks of wage-earning jobs, and there has been an increase in the number of female-headed households and an erosion of traditional family values.
Women are often victims of domestic violence and are over-represented among the unemployed and the poor. Fijian women have made greater advances than have Indo-Fijian women, often through the efforts of the National Council of Women, which has a program that encourages greater political involvement among women.
Marriage, Family, And Kinship Marriage. Among ethnic Fijians, marriages were traditionally arranged, with the groom's father often selecting a bride from a subclan with which his family had a long-term relationship; ties between lineages and families were strengthened in this manner. Today, although individuals choose their spouses freely, marriage is still considered an alliance between groups rather than individuals.
When parental approval is refused, a couple may elope. To avoid the shame of an irregular relationship, the husband's parents must quickly offer their apologies and bring gifts to the wife's family, who are obliged to accept them. Marriage is no longer polygynous, but divorce and remarriage are common. Indo-Fijian marriages traditionally were also parentally arranged.
Religiously sanctioned marriages are the norm, but civil registration has been required since Among ethnic Fijians, leve ni vale "people of the house" include family members who eat together, share their economic resources, and have access to all parts of the house.
The domestic unit typically consists of the senior couple, their unmarried children, and a married son with his wife and children and may extend to include an aged widowed parent, a sister of the head of the household, and grandchildren. Older people seldom live alone. Nuclear families are becoming more common in urban areas. The male household head controls the economic activity of the other males, and his wife supervises the other women. Indo-Fijians in rural areas live mostly in scattered homesteads rather than in villages.
Their households tend now to comprise a nuclear family rather than the traditional joint-family of the past. Among Fijians and Indo-Fijians, inheritance is largely patrilineal. Traditionally, a man inherited the symbols, social status, and property rights of his father's subclan, although men sometimes inherit from the mother or wife's family as well.
Today property other than native land may be willed to anyone. National law dictates that a surviving widow is entitled to a third of intestate property, with the remaining two-thirds apportioned among the deceased's heirs, including daughters. For ethnic Fijians, interpersonal relationships and social behavior are governed by links of kinship.
Households affiliate with households with which they share a male ancestor, forming an extended family group with extensive social and economic interactions.
These lineages combine to form a patrilineal subclan mataqaliwhich typically has exclusive claim to part of a village, where its members locate their homes. A village may have several subclans, among which the chiefly subclan dominates, receiving hereditary services from the others. These subclans are exogamous, and the members refer to each other by using kinship terms. Subclans come together to form clans yavusa that claim a common male ancestor, often from the distant past.
Indo-Fijians arrived too recently to have developed extrafamilial kin groups similar to Indian castes. Kin-related activities involve actual or fictive paternal and maternal relatives.
The Fijian and Indo-Fijian communities pamper infants, providing them with every comfort and convenience and enveloping them in an atmosphere of loving attention. Older people are particularly affectionate toward the very young. As an infant grows, it is disciplined and socialized by both parents but especially the mother, siblings, and other members of the domestic unit. Child Rearing and Education. Among ethnic Fijians, a child's level of maturity is measured by its capacity to experience shame and fear.
Children learn to fear being alone in the dark and to feel safe at home and in the village as opposed to the forest. Mothers warn children that at night the souls of the recent dead can snatch them away, and children are threatened with supernatural misfortune in the form of ogres and devils.
Children are given a great deal of freedom but are expected to recognize shame related to bodily functions and to being in the presence of social superiors.
Children are socialized between three and six years of age by being taught about their role in the subclan and their familial inheritance. Indo-Fijians traditionally have permitted their children much less freedom but have now begun to adopt Western ideas about child raising.
In traditional homes, the relationship between father and son is formal and reserved, but fathers are more affectionate toward their daughters, who will leave the family after marriage.
Mothers are extremely indulgent toward their sons and strict with their daughters, whom they prepare for the role of a daughter-in-law.
Public education is strongly influenced by Western prototypes and is considered the route to economic, social, and political opportunities. Schooling is not compulsory, but every child is guaranteed access to eight years of primary and seven years of secondary education. Primary schools are free, and secondary education is subsidized by the government.
Most schools are run by A family inside their house in Shell Village, Fiji. Traditional families might include unmarried children, married sons and their families, an elderly widowed parent, and the sister of the head of the household.Happy Fiji language week 2016!
English becomes the language of education after the fourth year. The government supports thirty-seven vocational and technical schools, including the Fiji Institute of Technology, the School of Maritime Studies, and the School of Hotel and Catering Services. Agricultural, teacher training, medical, nursing, and theological colleges draw students from other Pacific nations.
Fiji makes the largest contribution to the University of the South Pacific USPwhich was founded in ; its main campus in Suva has over four thousand students, and there are another four thousand external students. Half the faculty members are from the region, with the remainder coming mostly from Western and South Asian countries.
Etiquette Ethnic Fijians have informal personal relationships but also follow a tradition of ritual formality in a hierarchical society. In rural areas, people do not pass others without saying a word of greeting; the gentry receive a special form of greeting.
In villages, the central area is where the chiefly lineage lives and people must show respect by not wearing scanty dress, hats, sunglasses, garlands, or shoulder bags, and by not speaking or laughing boisterously. Footwear is removed before one enters a house. Guests are expected to hesitate before entering a house and to seat themselves near the door until invited to proceed further.
A complex system of gift giving and receiving has existed for centuries. Sperm whale teeth tabua are the most precious items of exchange and are given at marriages, funerals and other important ritual occasions. Formal and lengthy speeches accompany the presentation of a whale's tooth. Guests are given kava to drink to promote solidarity between kin, friends, and acquaintances.
Among Indo-Fijians, domestic norms are determined by gender and age, although etiquette is less formal. Sons treat their fathers with great respect, and younger brothers defer to older brothers. Females are socially segregated, but urban living has eroded this practice. The population is 53 percent Christian, 38 percent Hindu, and 8 percent Muslim, with small groups of Sikhs and people who profess no religion. The pre-Christian religion of the Fijians was both animistic and polytheistic, and included a cult of chiefly ancestors.
There was belief in a life after death. Souls of the departed were thought both to travel to a land of the dead and at the same time to remain close to their graves.
Modern Christian Fijians still fear their spirit ancestors. Christianity was brought to the islands in the s primarily by Methodist missionaries. Other denominations became active after World War II, and fundamentalist and evangelical sects have grown in membership over the last two decades.
Indo-Fijian Hindus follow a variety of religious customs brought by their forebears from India and are divided between the reformed and the orthodox. The religious practices of Hindus, Muslims, and Sikhs inherited from India are characterized by fasts, feasts, and festivals as well as prescribed rituals that cover major life events.
Priests of the traditional Fijian religion were intermediaries between gods and men. Today, Protestant ministers, Catholic priests, and lay preachers are the dominant religious leaders of the Fijians. In the Indo-Fijian community, religious scholars, holy men, and temple priests are the most important religious practitioners. Rituals and Holy Places. In the pre-Christian Fijian religion, every village had a temple where people made gifts to the gods through a priestly oracle.
In the nineteenth century, those temples were torn down and replaced with Christian churches, which became showpieces of village architecture. Indo-Fijian Hinduism relies on stories, songs, and rituals to teach its precepts. Ritualized readings of the Ramayana and worship before divine images at home or in a temple are important aspects of religious life.
Annual ceremonies are sponsored by many temples. Death and the Afterlife. Death evokes strong emotional and elaborate ritual responses in both Fijian and Indo-Fijian communities. But here the similarities end. Ethnic Fijians, almost entirely Christian, have integrated church-focused Christian practices and beliefs with their traditional funerary customs of gift-giving, feasting, kava drinking, and observance of mourning restrictions. Favoring burial over cremation, they also erect elaborate and colorful cloth decorations over their graves.
Although Christian ideas of heaven and hell are thoroughly integrated into the Fijians' present-day belief system, old beliefs in the power of ancestral spirits still linger on. Among Indo-Fijians, Hindus may cremate their dead, though this is not the norm, as it is in India; Muslims insist on burial.
These two religions offer very different visions of life after death: Hindus assume that the deceased's soul will be reborn and Muslims are confident that the true believer will be rewarded with eternal life in paradise.
Medicine and Health Care Ethnic Fijians often attribute sickness to supernatural entities in their pre-Christian belief system. Illnesses that are ascribed to natural causes are treated with Western medicine and medical practices, but illnesses that are thought to result from sorcery are treated by traditional healers, including seers, diviners, massage masters, and herbalists.
Healing occurs in a ritual context as the forces of good battle those of evil. Muslims and Hindus also turn to religious leaders to request divine intervention in the case of illness. Government-provided biomedical services are available at several hospitals, health centers, and nursing stations. The Fiji School of Medicine is affiliated with the University of the South Pacific, and there is a Fiji School of Nursing and specialist hospitals in Suva for the treatment of leprosy, psychological disorders, and tuberculosis.
Treatment is not free but is heavily subsidized by the government. Government-subsidized contraception is available throughout the islands as part of the family planning program. Christmas, Easter, the Hindus' Divali, and the prophet Mohammed's birthday.
None of these holidays provokes intense patriotic fervor. The Arts and Humanities Support for the Arts.
Most funding for the arts comes from the tourist industry and from galleries and studios, along with aid from foreign governments. The USP's Oceania Center for Arts and Culture, founded insponsors workshops and holds exhibitions of paintings and sculpture as well as music and dance performances and poetry readings. Colorful storefronts in Levuka, Fiji.
Urban architecture strongly reflects the influence of Fiji's western colonizers. The Fijian tradition of storytelling around the kava bowl has been maintained, as have recitations of the Ramayana in Hindu homes and temples. There is a small community of writers, many of them associated with the USP. Traditional legends and modern social analysis are common themes in Fijian literature, whereas Indo-Fijian literary works tend to concentrate on injustices during the period of indentured servitude.
Almost every Fijian girl learns the art of weaving baskets and mats for home and ceremonial use. The production of bark cloth is another traditional female skill; the cloth, which is used as traditional clothing and is still important in Fijian ceremonies, is now also sold to tourists in the form of wall hangings and handbags.
Languages of Fiji - Wikipedia
War clubs, spears, decorated hooks, kava bowls, and "cannibal forks" are carved by men almost entirely for tourist consumption. Pottery is made by women. The traditional dance theater meke combines singing, chanting, drumming, and stylized movements of the upper body to recreate stories, myths, and legends. Village-based, it is performed on special occasions such as the visit of a chief, a life-cycle event, or a ceremonial gift exchange.
The Dance Theater of Fiji now choreographs these performances for modern audiences.