9 October 2014

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We have a new ornamental flower bush, as lovely as forsythia.

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It is not in the yard: we discovered it down on the farm

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Even the bees love it.   If you look closely at this picture, you might be able to figure out what it is….. it is COFFEE FLOWERS !

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When in the neighboring village this week, I was able to get a close look at a team of bullocks and the loads they pull.

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Men make yokes out of local logs and put them together with ropes and chains.

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See how logs and sticks are used to make a sledge.   It works.

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After the sacks of cassava are unloaded – another cargo just piles itself on board 🙂

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Lucky us!  We got invited to a full traditional Fijian wedding this week!  Not so many Fijians have traditional weddings any more because they are quite costly. I was able to go and to take some Teitei guests along.   We were taken first to the home of the groom’s family.

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This is in the room that has been prepared for the groom and his bride.  The first photo was of the emroidered mosquito net over the wedding bed.  This photo is of  some of the wedding presents for the happy couple:  Pillows with their name embroidered, blankets and mats.   There were many, many more presents – this is all referred to as the tevutevu.

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These are a few ladies in the groom’s family living room.  Off camera, the mother of the groom was sewing lace around a pillow, and another lady was pleating colorful fabric that would become an “apron.”   These ladies were starting to prepare plates of cake for the bride’s morning tea.

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Although we said “Vinaka” (“thank you” – which is how you say NO when you are offered something to eat), they brought us this beautiful plate of cakes and some mugs of tea anyway.

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One lovely young woman named Maraia (ma-RYE-ya) served as our guide, and she took us through the village.   It was life as usual going on around the big wedding – I loved these kids.

We were taken to a large temporary shelter, called a “shed” to wait for the arrival of the bride.   Maraia was eager to see how the bride would arrive because each place does it a little differently.

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Here comes the bride, wrapped in white masi, with one attendant (I’m guessing a sister or cousin) and other family members.  The bride in this case carried a hand fan made of pandanus with her name woven in.

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And here she is, the masi is off, sitting in the position of honor at the front of the shed.  Can you see how relaxed she looks?   She looked happy and relaxed for the entire event.   I figured out why later.

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Next are some customs I was expecting:   speeches and KAVA.

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Speeches and TABUAs, whale’s teeth.  I’d never seen so many at one time – there were even more off-camera, and I never saw one as large as that big one.

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And then Morning Tea for about 200 people in the shed

Relatives had come from many places in Fiji.  Each family brought specific gifts.  Handmaidens from each family group/village had pleated aprons of identical cloth (“kalavata”), see above: three different cloths, so three different villages visible here. The wedding serves as a big, humongous family reunion.

THIS is why the bride was not nervous!   The wedding is not the “day of the bride” – it is the “day of the family”

So we sat around visiting and waited for the second appearance of the bride and the first appearance of the groom.

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Voila!  The best man, the groom, the bride (now in brown masi) and the maid of honor.  They made a ceremonial circuit of the village.  In addition to masi (bark cloth), they are each wearing a salusalu (garland)  that is specially made for the occasion.

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Then they crossed the dry river bed and went up the hill.  I had no idea why they were going, and asked around.  Finally I found out … the Assembly of God church was on that side of the creek!   And so we followed.

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The humble but spirit-filled church building.

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The beautiful entrance.

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The small shed outside where some of us sat.

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But this just Would Not Do for my gentleman guest.  The pastor sent someone out to fetch him and make sure that he sat INSIDE the church.  This friend felt very honored and very happy to be escorted inside.

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The exchange of vows inside the beautifully decorated church.

Then there was a reception line and we all walked back to the village.

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The community hall was decorated in such a fancy manner!   Two relatives work for  resorts on the coast and they rented fancy tables and chairs for this.  I was amazed.  The pastor tried to get us to join the wedding party in here, but we declined as it was so special, we did not want any of the family to have to give up their seats for us.

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We returned to the groom’s family home where a delicious lunch was brought to us.  I wish you could taste it!

Those who know Fiji well may be asking, “What about the lovo?,” i.e. the underground oven that is a staple of all meetings and ceremonies.   This is clearly not lovo food   Funny thing there.  Yes, there was a lovo – but it was not for the lunch.  The lovo food was being saved for the dinner.  The pig was to be given to the bride’s family.  The beef was going to the groom’s dinner.

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Some palusami from the lovo did come out for the lunch, though.    YUM.

Even after the wedding meal, the wedding is not over yet.  Not even.

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Exchange of gifts between the families was still to come.  Drums of kerosene, piles of mats, mountains of pillows.   Perhaps that lorry came full of these presents, and will return home full of other presents, because we saw more of the same in other locations.

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“I dodged the lovo …. again!”

Have a happy week.

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