Saturday 12th September 2015
We returned to the mall for the fire-walking show. Yesterday’s dancing had seemed a bit incongruous in this location, and the fire-walking seemed even more so. The fire had been lit earlier in the day over the top of large stones in an area of earth between the marble tiles of the mall. A group of young men began by performing a kava-drinking ceremony, after which they removed the hot coals with poles and moved the stones around until they were happy with their positions. Then, in turn, they walked across the hot stones.
The fire had been laid over large stones earlier in the day. The kava-drinking ceremony preceded the fire-walking.
The burning logs are removed and the stones pushed into place. The men then walked barefoot across the stones.
Finally, they gathered around the stones and then laid branches over the top of them.
This was once a sacred ritual performed only on the island of Beqa, south of Viti Levu. Indigenous Fijian fire-walking is known as ‘vilavilarevo’ which literally means ‘jumping into the oven’. The ability to walk on hot stones without being burnt was originally granted to a chief by a group of Gods. Now, the direct descendants of the chief act as priests who instruct in the ritual of fire-walking. Traditionally it was performed on special occasions, but these days it is more often performed for commercial purposes, such as tonight.