Fiji is a country whose culture and traditional heritage remains dynamic and strong. A vibrant mix of Ethnic Fijian and Indo-Fijian can be experienced throughout the islands. You can step back in time and visit a re-created traditional village; watch a meke performance and marvel at the costumes, song and dance; be inspired by the Beqa firewalkers as they cross the fiery coals barefoot; visit an exotic Hindu temple in Nadi or discover ancient artefacts at the Fiji Museum in Suva. You’ll find plenty of ways to immerse yourself in this country’s vibrant culture.
Fiji society is male-dominated with a hereditary chief system still firmly in place. Protocol from village life is retained in urban areas, so visiting a home in the city requires the same protocol to be observed as entering a house in a traditional village. The differing races and religions within Fiji have created a variety of traditional ceremonies with Diwali (the Indian Festival of Lights) and Christmas observed by all. The ceremony of drinking yaqona (kava) is highly respected by Fijians. The ancient art of firewalking is still practised by the Beqa people, and is now offered as a tourist attraction in some places. Many sacred ceremonies are still observed and conducted unannounced.
- Hats and sunglasses are not to be worn in a village as they indicate disrespect of the chief.
- Do not wear shoes inside buildings.
- Women must have their knees and shoulders covered and it is respectful for men to do the same. Sulus and t-shirts are ideal for this purpose.
- Avoid touching a Fijian person’s head, as it is considered an insult.
- When visiting a village, it is customary to take a ‘sevusevu’ (gift) of kava root. This can be purchased from local markets and will be gift-wrapped in newspaper and twine if you advise that it is a sevusevu. About $20 worth is usual.
- You will be asked to drink kava with the villagers on arrival. It is customary to drink the bowlful in one gulp. When you have finished the contents, return the bowl and clap three times.
- It is impolite to sit with your legs stretched out in front of you.