The wedding at Pellonk, Uliveo
Date Wednesday 1 October 2014
The intention was to leave at noon with good overhead light and move on to another anchorage. First we went ashore to deliver some photographs and there got waylaid by the head of tourism and his assistant visiting from Port Villa. They asked us to accompany them and listen to a talk on a local legend as a sample audience.
The story was of the Lisepsep, a sort of Polynesian wood spirit or witch who lived with her daughter in this small cave at the centre of Uliveo and stole food from the villages until they tricked her and she was driven out to take refuge on the island of Ambryn where she transmuted herself into a volcano. Rather too many mosquitos for western tastes.
We had heard that there was to be a wedding at the church in the village of Pellonk with the bride coming from the third of the island villages, Peskarus. This we thought was an opportunity not to be missed so we purchased a few banans for lunch and awaited for the appointed hour; which cam e and went. Two separate people when asked about the time merely laughed and said the same thing “Black man’s time” – they might say such a thing but we could not possibly.
Something starting to happen. Men of the bridal party arrived carrying the brides possessions and wedding gifts to her new village
At last the bride was ready attended by her sister also in white and numerous bridesmaids in pink
The bridal part, now with the bridegroom, process over to the church
Much of the ceremony was familiar, if in a mix of English and the local language of Bislama
The men not only sat separately from the women. They also left church first. Elizabeth felt somewhat underdressed but was made a fuss of by the ladies. This was the receiving line leaving the church.
The happy couple. We got the impression that weddings were serious things and smiling was not an option. We have family photographs from Victorian times that show the same idea
The wedding cake ready for cutting
And the bridesmaids. White chalk marks on the neck and cheeks were part of the decoration and we assume hark back to pre-missionary practices