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Embracing the Fijian Cultural Etiquette

Nestled within the pristine landscapes of Fiji, Vorovoro Island is a haven where tradition and community intertwine seamlessly. While the island exudes warmth and welcomes visitors with open arms, respecting its customs adds a special touch to your experience.


We ask visitors to try to learn and respect certain simple but important Fijian customs. If this seems like a lot, don't fret! There will always be someone around to help you, and these things will become second nature to you on the island very quickly. And perfection is never expected! All that is needed is just a willingness to learn and do our best.



Here's a guide to embracing cultural etiquette on Vorovoro:


Announce Yourself

When entering someone's home or joining a group on the kava mat, let them know you are there! We typically say different things depending on the time of the day. During the day, as you enter a village or approach someone's home, men announce themselves with a deep and loud "Ho. Yah!" and women say a softer "Mai na vadu" (pronounced mai-na vahn-doooo). Both men and women say "Bogi!" (pronounced bongi) in the evening or nighttime. Do this, and you will undoubtedly receive a warm Fijian welcome!


Warm Greetings

Upon arrival on the island, you are required to gift kava root as a 'sevusevu' to the chief for a warm welcome. This traditional offering symbolizes respect and appreciation. Don't worry; we and the locals will gladly assist you in this ritual, ensuring it's done with grace and sincerity.


Sit Down

When having a conversation with a Fijian friend who is seated on the ground or joining a group on the kava mat, take a seat to chat. It's considered rude to stand above someone when holding a conversation. 


Modest Dress

In Fijian culture, modest dress for women is important. Clothing that covers the shoulders and knees is respectful and appreciated. Embracing modest dress not only shows reverence for local customs but also ensures you're comfortable in the tropical climate.



Shoe Etiquette

It's customary to remove shoes before entering certain buildings, such as homes or communal spaces. This practice keeps indoor spaces clean and maintains the sanctity of the environment.


Village Etiquette

When entering a village or someone's home, remove your sunglasses, hats, caps, and headbands and carry your bag in your hand, not on your back. Keep voices soft and low, and move with reverence and respect. Vinaka!



Head

The head is considered to be a sacred part of the body. Therefore, it is inappropriate to touch someone else's. Do not pat or stroke anyone's head – including children.


Chief Etiquette

Whenever Tui Mali is around, everyone should have a sulu on, and ladies should always have their chest and shoulders covered. Never pass anything behind Tui Mali on the kava mat without first asking permission.

 

Also, never pass or walk between Tui Mali and the tanoa (the big wooden bowl where the kava is mixed). And on the grog mat (and in general), it is polite to stretch your legs in a direction away from the chief. If in doubt, always ask a Fijian friend!



Participate Enthusiastically

Be open to joining in traditional ceremonies or activities. Whether it's partaking in cultural dances, learning local crafts, or engaging in storytelling sessions, your enthusiasm fosters meaningful connections and enriches your Vorovoro experience.


In Conclusion

Visiting Vorovoro offers a rare opportunity to immerse yourself in a culture that cherishes its traditions and embraces outsiders with warmth and hospitality. By respecting cultural etiquette and engaging wholeheartedly with the local community, you'll forge lasting memories and meaningful connections that extend far beyond your time on the island.


No one is perfect, but please do your best and never hesitate to ask questions! We are all learning together! Vinaka vakalevu (thank you) for joining us on our journey to bridge the gap between cultures and create unforgettable experiences on Vorovoro Island.


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