Significant and ancient in Fiji, the “sevusevu” also marks the time and place for visitors to seek acceptance into a Fijian village.
A bundle of Yaqona or Kava is appropriate offering.
When you arrive at a village, you should ask for the ‘Turaga ni Koro’ who is the appointed village headman. It is his duty to greet you and ascertain your intentions before presenting you and your gift to his chiefs and village elder.
Everyone participating in the ceremony should be dressed accordingly in a sulu. Women are also expected to have their shoulders covered and items like hats and sunglasses should be removed from your head.
You will be shown to the Chiefs house or Village hall and sit a woven mat on the floor. Men should sit cross-legged (ensuring the sulu covers your knees) while women sit with knees and feet together, resting on the floor to whichever side is most comfortable. Silence at this point is the key.
The Turaga ni Koro will approach the Chief on his knees to place your bundle of yaqona in front of him, staying low as he does so.
He will cobo three times, which in Fijian culture means, “I am about to speak, thank you for listening while I do”.
He will then begin reciting the traditional monologue, which differs slightly throughout Fiji, but essentially means the same thing. This will end with a chant, coupled with three more cobos that indicate they have completed their introduction.
The Chiefs ‘herald’ – or second in command, will officially accept the yaqona on behalf of the chief with three cobos to announce the beginning and end of his speech.
In a formal yaqona ceremony, authority is given by the village spokesman to begin mixing the yaqona.
Sometimes they will mix up the kava and you will be offered a bowl. More usually , they just take the kava from you and you are free to leave .
If you are interested in one of the ceremonies we participated in, please see the YouTube video below.