A bit of Culture - July/August 2015 - Northern Viti Levu, FIJI (ENG) {PICS}

Wed 5 Aug 2015 23:00



17:22.95S 178:9.900E

A bit of Culture - July/August 2015

Ellington Wharf, Ellington Temple, Rakiraki Town, Volivoli Beach Resort , VITI LEVU, FIJI


There are quite a few days with not too much happening apart from the usual routine (exercises, preparing food, dishes, usual household, maintenance and some repairs (fortunately not too many lately). A little kiting, and sometimes some excursions ashore. Here a summary of our time in the 'North' - so compressed it looks like a holiday in itself! J :


Rakiraki is a district in Fiji's Ra Province in Northern Viti Levu and also the name of the closest 'town' (there are only about 4 streets) to go shopping when in Nananu-I-Ra.


The district counts about 30.000 people of which about 3.500 live in Rakiraki's principal urban centre. By the way, the entire Fijian pop. is approx 900.000.


Rakiraki is an area often said to portray Fijian patriotism. Many noted Fijian politicians have originated from this area, such as Sidiq Koya, who fought for Fijian workers' rights. Also, apparently quite popular and famous international rugby player Sireli Bobo comes from this region and had worked as so many here cutting sugar cane and diving for corals.


In fellow sailor Philip's dinghy we cross the 2nm from our anchorage to the Ellington Wharf on the main island to share a taxi.

I got along very well with our driver Ganguli. Despite having trouble understanding a lot of his English we were going to meet a few more times…

Some impressions from the scenery along the 20 min drive.  It's very rural, most people plant Kasava, Papaya and few other local fruit and vegetable.

Agriculture (especially sugar cane) and tourism are the mainstays of the Rakiraki economy. The Fiji Sugar Corporation operates the Penang Sugar Mill on the Penang River (see picture below).



~~~ Some street impressions from Rakiraki and the very busy market. ~~~


Another day, Michael and I thought we make the best of being so close to some civilization and ask Ganguli to take us out to Rakiraki's nightlife. We invited him aboard first and started with some drinks (he had also brought some weed - seems to be rather common and popular here, next to the Kava; also gives you a little better buzz - but not quite legal of course…).

We learned he's the Captain of the local soccer team and good in massages and has some exotic adjustment techniques! But when in pain, you try out almost anything…



It actually felt good at that time, but unfortunately didn't have a lasting effect.

The 'nightlife' turned out to be some popular event at the Hindu Mariamman Temple in Ellington.

It's a 10-day ceremony that concludes on the following day with traditional fire walking. We found a kind of a theatre play and a lot of people hanging out. Interestingly, there's a lot of Cava drinking, but no beers.

Unfortunately, everything takes a long time and we missed the promised dancing cause we just got too tired.



The next day, Sara and I took up Ganguli on his offer and explored a little bit of the surroundings and then attend the fire walking ceremony.

(pictures further down)


Below left:

The Navatu Rock is in Vitawa village just south of Rakiraki. It looks like a person's profile and is believed to be one of Fiji's oldest human settlements. Pottery excavated at the base of the rock has been dated to around 1000BC.


Below right:

We also passed the tomb of Ratu Udre Udre, a famous 19th century cannibal chief who reportedly consumed more than 800 of his victims. He kept a stone for each body he ate; the stones were placed alongside his tomb in Rakiraki, in northern Viti Levu. According to Udre Udre’s son, the chiefs of Rakiraki would go to the battlefield along with Udre Udre and they would each give him every body part of their victims, especially the head, preserving what he couldn’t eat in one sitting for consumption later.

It is believed that if he had consumed his 1000th body, he would have become immortal.

Two blondies among a lot of Hindis. Not my best picture but I wanted to be in the newsletter at least once… ;-)

Ganguli with his wife and a friend and his son. I found the sparkling diamond imitation e rings quite impressing.

After the fire walking the participants mark themselves with blessed water, pray and receive 3 whips on arms and back. Unfortunately, we couldn't get the exact meanings of all the details from the entire ritual from the locals and I don't think it only has to do with the language.

Surely the leaders would have been able to elaborate more, but of course they've been very busy with the ceremony. 

Wondering about the 'Hakenkreuz' on the temple wall?

The name swastika comes from the Sanskrit word svastika "lucky object".


The earliest known object with swastika-motifs is a bird from the tusk of a mammoth from the paleolithic settlement of Mezine, Ukraine dated to 10,000 BCE.


In Hinduism it's been used for about 5,000 years.

The red coloured Swastika bent to the right stands for sunrise, day, live, salvation, the male principle and the god Ganesha and in general luck.

Ganguli invited us to a cup of tea to his home. I felt shy but now wish I would have taken some pictures inside. I don’t think they would have minded.

I took one picture of their pretty young goat - quite a mischevious one, too. A minute later he started chewing up the laundry hanging above!


A day before, Michael and I thought we make the best being so close to some civilization and ask Ganguli to take us out to Rakiraki's nightlife. We started with drinks (and in his case some weed - seems to be rather common and popular here, next to the Kava; also gives you a little better buzz - but not legal of course.)


Our anchorage in front of Volivoli Beach Resort and behind Philip and Sara from Blubie. Sometimes cloudy grey windless days make a magical morning.


Still prefer the golden sunlight. We came in time for the resort's weekly Friday Fijian dance performance and really enjoyed the lovely, kind and fun people.



Want to know more about Fiji?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fiji (ENG) and

https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fidschi (DEU)


And here's some background from the

FBI World Factbook:

Fiji became independent in 1970 after nearly a century as a British colony. Democratic rule was interrupted by two military coups in 1987 caused by concern over a government perceived as dominated by the Indian community (descendants of contract laborers brought to the islands by the British in the 19th century). The coups and a 1990 constitution that cemented native Melanesian control of Fiji led to heavy Indian emigration; the population loss resulted in economic difficulties, but ensured that Melanesians became the majority. A new constitution enacted in 1997 was more equitable. Free and peaceful elections in 1999 resulted in a government led by an Indo-Fijian, but a civilian-led coup in May 2000 ushered in a prolonged period of political turmoil. Parliamentary elections held in August 2001 provided Fiji with a democratically elected government led by Prime Minister Laisenia QARASE. Reelected in May 2006, QARASE was ousted in a December 2006 military coup led by Commodore Voreqe BAINIMARAMA, who initially appointed himself acting president but in January 2007 became interim prime minister. Since taking power BAINIMARAMA has neutralized his opponents, crippled Fiji'