Every Wednesday night Sonaisali Island Resort, Fiji is treating guests to the ancient Fijian tradition of Fire Walking, with a breathtaking Fire Walking show and traditional Kava Ceremony.
“Since its introduction the Firewalking and Kava Ceremony has been the most popular of the cultural events showcased at Sonaisali. The show takes about 45 minutes to an hour and the performers all interact with our guests, often sharing stories and other Fijian Traditions.” Says Aaron McGrath – Sonasiali Island Resorts Managing Director.
Fijian Firewalking is unique to the Sawau Tribe of the island of Beqa in the Southern Islands of Fiji and each week a group of 8-10 performers make the weekly trip to Sonaisali Island Resort to entertain guests and explain this ancient tradition.
All members must observe two strict rules, there must be no contact with women and eating coconuts if forbidden in the days preceding the ceremony. Failure to observe these taboos may result in severe burns. This ancient religious ceremony often requires great strength and discipline of the mind, body and spirit.
Six to eight hours before the ceremony a huge bonfire is built with the ceremony starting with the smouldering logs being removed with long green poles whilst the participants chant, to clear away the logs from the hot stones. A long tree fern, said to contain the spirit of God, is laid across the pit in the direction of the bete (the priest/master of ceremonies). Large vines are then dragged across the stones, levelling them for the actual firewalking.
When the stones are finally in position, the bete jumps on them and takes a few trial steps to test their firmness. He will then call for bundles of green leaves and swamp grass which are placed around the edge of the pit. Finally, the position of the tree fern is adjusted at the command of the bete, and the firewalkers will approach the pit from the direction in which it points. The tree fern is removed and the firewalkers walk, single file, across the red-hot stones.
This performance is followed with a traditional Kava ceremony, where one member of the audience is appointed as the Chief. Kava (also known as Yaqona) is the traditional drink of Fiji and is mixed from the roots of the piper methysticum plant and diluted in water. Participants sit in a circle on a mat facing the tanoa, a large hand carved wooden bowl. One by one, amidst chanting and hand clapping, each person drinks the kava from a share half coconut shell. Kava ceremonies are still used in many Fijian villages to welcome visitors.
Feedback from guests includes: “My boys loved it and cherish the photos of them with the firewalkers” ~ Jenny Clarke. “We attended and loved it” ~ Kathryn Brown. “My hubby was chosen as Chief, so funny, great night” ~ Jo Hamilton Sime.
4 Star Sonaisali Island Resort is a true island escape, a small green dot in the beautiful South Pacific Ocean – yet the world you’ve left behind is only a 3 minute boat ride across the lagoon from the Main Island and 25mins drive from Nadi International Airport.