Fiji Culture & Religion
Fijian lifestyle is a relaxed combination of traditional culture and a strong belief in the family and community. The indigenous Fijian culture is an active part of everyday life for most of the population and visitors will feel the distinct Fijian flavour through the food, people, music and customary arts. The culture has evolved over time with the introduction of Indian, Chinese and European influences, as well as strong ties with the Tongan and Rotuman cultures. The Fijian people are exceedingly warm and friendly and love to express their love of life with their genuine hospitality with infectious, enthusiastic, and ubiquitous “Bulas!”.
Fijians live a slow-paced lifestyle, visitors from the busy western world can sometimes feel annoyed at what the locals endearingly refer to as “Fiji time”. Fiji time is the notion of things getting done eventually or not at all, without any stress of time. It is a sensation felt by everyone who visits and lives on the island – Fiji time makes minutes feel like hours and hours feel like days. It forces people to stop rushing and enjoy where they are now.
Fiji is a multi-race and a multi-cultural country, with a range of religions present. The population is predominately 64% Christian, 28% Hindu, and 6% Muslim with the rest making up other religions including Sikhs. Religion tends to split along ethnic lines with most Indigenous Fijians being Christian and most Indo-Fijians being either Hindu or Muslim. It is very common to see Christian churches, mosques, and Hindu and Sikh temples throughout the islands. Visitors are welcome to participate in a service, even if you are not religious, as it lets you better understand the locals, how the culture is structured, and why the people are so friendly & family focused. Most of the service is different worship songs as the Fijians love music. While the lyrics are not understandable, the singing of the Fijian people will captivate you.
Refrain from touching a Fijian’s head – it is considered bad manners and always ask permission before taking photographs in rural areas.
Most Fijians are religious, modest and dress accordingly in public places – Remember to always cover your shoulders and knees when visiting villages. Remove your hat and take off your shoes when entering someone’s home.
As a symbol of thanks when visiting a village, it’s customary to offer a small gift to the chief.
Local Fijian Ceremonies
There are three main cultural ceremonies which they take part of such as the Lovo, the Meke and the Yaqona (Kava):
- The Lovo is a type of feast, like a campfire. It involves a hole in the ground with firewood and stones (like an underground oven). The traditional style of cooking in large quantities to bring together communities.
- The Meke is a dance that tells stories of love, history, spirits, and tales of the islands. It can be performed by men, women as well as children. The women are in traditional clothes and garlands of flowers and the men in full warrior costumes with spears. Musical instruments are used also for percussion.
- Kava is the traditional, national drink of Fiji. It’s made from the roots of the pepper shrub and is drunk between friends and business associates. In a traditional ceremony the chief of the village drinks first, then is followed by other village members in order of status. When visiting a village, all visitors are expected to join in the Kava ceremony!
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