Etiquette In A Fijian Village
When visiting a village it is customary to present a gift of yaqona, which is also known as kava. The gift, called a sevusevu, is not expensive-half-a-kilo (which is appropriate) costs approximately $10.
It is presented to the Turaga ni Koro, the executive head of the village. The presentation is usually in his house and will generally be attended by some of the older men who happen to be in the vicinity at the time and can quickly turn into a social occasion. Pounded into powder, the yaqona will be mixed with water and served. Be prepared to shake hands and to answer many personal questions such as where you are from, are you married, how many children do you have, how much money you earn etc.
It is important to dress modestly when away from the immediate vicinity of your resort or hotel. Always carry a sulu (sarong, lavalava, pareu) to cover bathing togs or shorts and halter tops.
Do not wear a hat in a village as it is considered an insult to a chief. Do not wear shoes into people's houses. It is considered an insult to touch someone's head.
Fijians are known as the friendliest people in the world. Your respect for their customs and traditions will not only make you a welcome guest in their villages and homes, but add another dimension to your Fijian holiday.
Important Tips About Visiting Villages:
Dress modestly. Don't wear shorts, and women must not wear halter tops and shoulders bare.
Do not wear hats. They are interpreted as a sign of disrespect.
Always remove your shoes before entering any house or other building.
Stay with your assigned host. If other villagers ask you to eat or accompany them, politely note that you are with your host and would be honoured to visit with them at some other time. Remember, Fijians will, out of customs, always ask you to eat with them or share whatever they have.
Speak softly. Raised voices are interpreted as expressing anger.
Show respect, but be cautious with praise. If you show too much liking for an object, then the Fijians will feel obliged to give it to you as a gift, whether they can afford to or not.
If you spend a night in the village, reward your host with a useful gift of similar value for each member of your party. It is not recommended that you stay in a village which is in the habit of accommodating paying visitors. If you feel obliged to pay more, then ask your host what he or she might like and purchase it for them. A bundle of groceries is graciously appreciated by large Fijian families.
You will find some villages more traditional than others, especially those distant from towns and urban centres. Remember, Fijians are not judgmental of other people and will rarely express a negative opinion. However, you will find that the more you respect their customs, the warmer your village welcome will be.