Coming of Age

It’s school break right now here in Fiji, and I’ve recently learned that this is the time of year that young boys are usually circumcised.  In Fiji it is tradition that boys are circumcised around the age of 9, a.  This is done at the local nursing center.  After a fortnight (four days)  the boy takes a bath in the ocean (sisili en na waitui) and there is a big feast with family and friends in his honor.  He is dressed up in traditional masi (printed clothes) and sits at the head of the feast.  I’m not sure why they wait until this age here, but I do know that this tradition is a big deal.

All of the women of the family will cook and bring big pots of food to dish out into smaller serving bowls and arrange along the ibe ni kana (eating mat).  The bowls are refilled throughout the meal.  Once one person finishes their meal, they excuse themselves, and their place is taken by another guest waiting to eat.  The men and young children and their mothers usually eat first, following by younger men / older youth, and then finally the women who cooked the meal.  Everyone usually still insists that I eat first, so after I excuse myself I get started helping with the dishes.  Dishes are brought by all of the families to share, so we wash them and then arrange them by family for return.  We fill a few buckets with water to rinse, wash, and rinse again.  I have to say I really love the way that Fijians do social gatherings!  Everyone pitches in, in one way or another, from cooking to cleaning.  There is never any waste- any extra food is plated up and delivered to people who didn’t come (like the elderly or mothers with infants) and we use plates and utensils from peoples homes (no wasteful paper stuff!).  These kinds of gatherings are my favorite moments here in Fiji- it’s fascinating to watch the division of work and the way that everyone is involved in helping.

We’ve had several feasts in Nabasovi the last few weeks, so I thought I’d share some pictures from the latest one!

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Each woman makes a big pot of food and brings it over the the feast to spoon out into smaller serving dishes that are arranged around the ibe ni kana (eating mat) and re-filled throughout the meal.
Each woman makes a big pot of food and brings it over the the feast to spoon out into smaller serving dishes that are arranged around the ibe ni kana (eating mat) and re-filled throughout the meal.
Tons of fresh fish, greens in coconut milk and roasted dalo!
Tons of fresh fish, greens in coconut milk and roasted dalo!
A little friend and I :)
A little friend and I 🙂
The guest of honor and his mother
The guest of honor and his mother

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Head of ibe ni kana!
Head of ibe ni kana!
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