Thursday, March 29, 2007

Vakamamaca - Fijian women in procession

from w
Peceli said, 'Let's go shopping' and I said Okay because we need some food for the weekend. 'You have to buy ten yards of coloured cloth for the vakamamaca tomorrow.'
What? 'For the welcome to the Moderator at the church.' Okay, so we go to Spotlight, which is heaven to many of the women of Geelong, a super, super store for those who love to sew - which is not me at the present. Hundreds and hundreds of rolls of beautiful cloth! Well, I found one bolt of coloured cloth I liked - with a patchwork look about it - and bought six metres - the last of the roll.

Vakamamaca is an old Fijian custom for greeting a visitor which has been adapted and is still maintained today. It's part of the Fijian formal welcoming ceremony. The women in procession carry rolled pandanus mats to present to the main guest and also lengths of cloth. (The same things occurs sometimes in concerts and the dancers are wrapped around with the lengths of cloth.) The reason behind it is based on the arrival of guests by sea and they will probably be wet and need new dry clothing.


Anonymous said...

Some people have phased that gift giving into a simple dinner. Cheaper and still effective way of thanking person(s).

Peceli and Wendy's Blog said...

Adaptation and change will bring about a lot of arguments I suppose. The custom of vakamamaca is beautiful and orderly but very costly these days. I am all for simplicity but it's hard to argue with those that want continuity of tradition.
Today we will also have a very formal meke ni yaqona also to greet the Moderator of the Uniting Church in our state, Rev. Jason Kioa to the Fijian congregation at Altona Meadows. This has involved several practices and relearning chants, even dance movements, so it's good to do this and for migrant Fijians to keep this aspect of cultural practice.

Gilbert Veisamasama, Jr said...

Some expenses are really not necessary such as the vakamamaca. However, it's good to have them once in a while to keep our culture and traditions alive.

For instance, for deaths, Fijians offer a variety of activities now. While some still go the full route of burua, vakabogiva, vakabogidrau, etc, others are opting for a big lunch on the day of the funeral where everyone is invited to and that is it. Any other activities such as the vakabogiva and vakabogidrau, if they are held, are only for immediate family members to avoid unduly burdening others.

Peceli and Wendy's Blog said...

Yes, you are right. Sometimes simplicity is good. Macuata has complicated customs. What we did here on Saturday was a revised form, mainly Lauan, from Rev Eseta's waciwaci clan. She helped our group to rehearse for about four weeks.
I expect at the Methodist Conference to be held in Macuata, they will have the full ceremony and honour.

Gilbert Veisamasama, Jr said...

Yes, given that it's a Methodist Conference, we, who belong to other denominations are being asked to contribute towards the expenses of hosting those that will be attending the meeting, simply because we are from there.

Some of these things really need to be cut down.

And another question, "Is there real accountability of the millions given by church members each year?"

I do not think that the millions given are well accounted for. The only things that we see are Methodist preachers driving around in very posh four wheel drives. They should really think back to the time of Jesus when he ministered on earth. Did He ride around in chariots? No! He walked! They should try and inculcate that serving attitude in themselves again rather than an expectation of being served.

Peceli and Wendy's Blog said...

Gilbert, now you are getting into the nitty-gritty of it. Perhaps the expenses of hospitality for the Conference in Macuata can be helped by a large number of people - even though some are not Methodists but... some aspects of the customs do seem distant from the life of Jesus and his priorities of living.
There used to be quite a few humble Indian padres and Fijian talatalas who did not drive in fancy cars and sit at the top of the every table and put on weight!

Gilbert Veisamasama, Jr said...

You are right, Wendy. "There used to be"! Unfortunately, those cadre of ministers are fast disappearing and that is why I said that they need to look at themselves again and compare themselves to how Jesus ministered during his time on earth and learn to emulate that. It's not only them. It is also we as individuals. If we base ourselves on what the Bible says, then we should be okay.

As for contributing to the Methodist Conference being from Macuata, I don't mind at all. I know that it is something that I am doing for God, ultimately, and the vanua.