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Get To Know Kava, the Relaxing National Drink of Fiji

Published by: Greymouse Marketing | 28 February, 2022

Boozy traditions, ocean conservation, and rich multi-cultural history  there’s lots more to the Pacific Island nation than its beautiful islands and beaches.

Enjoy the Pacific island nation where the welcome is as warm as the tropical weather!

The people of Fiji are some of the warmest and most welcoming in the world which regularly surprises visitors to the nation. The residents warmly greet people they come into contact with regardless of whether or not they know each other. Fijian culture places a huge emphasis on friendship which is the main reason the residents are so welcoming to foreigners. The warm nature of the Fijians is one of the reasons the nation has a large tourism sector and is the best place for outsourcing.

IT’S THE HOME OF KAVA

Kava is available for purchase in most open-air markets in Fiji. Kava is also given as sevusevu (ceremonial gift) by guests seeking the favour of a village chief and should be laid before him on arrival.

Kava, the national drink of Fiji, is a nonalcoholic beverage that’s steeped in tradition. It’s served to welcome an unknown to the village, as well as at weddings, funerals, graduations, and milestone birthdays.

Kava, otherwise known as yaqona, or quite simply, grog, is the traditional national drink of Fiji. It is a mildly narcotic and sedative drink made from the crushed root of the yaqona (pronounced yang-GO-na) strained with water. It is served in a large communal bowl as part of the traditional kava ceremony. When drunk, it creates a pleasant, numb feeling around the mouth, lips, and tongue, as well as a sense of calm and relaxation.

Yet despite the natural calming effects of the drink, the true experience lies in partaking in the complete kava ceremony. Kava is traditionally served as part of a ceremonial atmosphere, most commonly in welcoming guests into a village and on important occasions.

Firstly, as a participant at a Kava ceremony, your hosts expect you to dress respectfully and modestly. It is tradition to present the leader (your host) with a Kava root, which you can find at any Fijian market. This will show your true understanding of the Fijian culture and the significance of the kava ceremony.

The Kava ceremony focuses on the communal Kava Tanoa (bowl). Guests sit in a circle around the bowl which is placed in front of the leader. The ceremony commences with the actual production of the kava. The plant is pounded and the pulp placed into a cloth sack and mixed with water. The end result is a brownish-colored liquid – the Kava gold. It is then strained and ready for drinking.

The village chief drinks first and when it’s your turn – clap once, gulp it down, then clap three times. When everyone has slurped this tongue-numbing drink, you’ll be welcomed with open arms.

It is impolite to refuse Kava if offered.

Your host will offer kava as high tide (full cup) or low tide (half cup). When presented with the kava, clap once and yell ‘Bula!’ (Fijian for hello). Drink the kava in one gulp if possible, clap three more times and end with the word Maca – pronounced ‘Ma-tha.

The village chief drinks first and when it’s your turn – clap once, gulp it down, then clap three times. When everyone has slurped this tongue-numbing drink, you’ll be welcomed with open arms.

Finally, once you have finished your kava, you will feel a delightful sense of serenity and calm, with a slight numbness around your mouth, lips, and tongue. A kava ceremony is always fun and full of laughter and smiles. Is a true indicator of Fijian culture. This is why Fijians often serve kava to settle an argument or to make peace between villagers.

At Greymouse Fiji, the kava ceremony occurs once or twice in the month on Friday afternoon.

Kava sessions can last anywhere from an hour to several hours, sometimes until the early hours of the morning. The taste is earthy and the strong aftertaste is sometimes counteracted by sucking on a lolly or mint after consuming a bowl. In Fiji, seasoned drinkers are “black belts”, who can drink kava for hours, sometimes every day of the week. But for the uninitiated, the drink has an almost immediate numbing effect, which starts from the mouth and then eventually makes its way down the body, leaving a person with a relaxed sensation that gets stronger with every bowl.

Don’t be shy, join in the dancing. Fijians are the most friendly and welcoming people on earth.

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