Kava

The yaqona plant is part of every ceremony, otherwise the Vu (gods) are not present. Opening the ceremony, the kava exchange is inviting the Vu, and if done right, allows access to their mana. Kava is the channel to the gods; and it is the nourishment of the gods.

Kava is a tall, leafy plant that grows about five feet in height, and is often grown as a cash crop. It’s roots are dried and pounded into powder that is then used to prepare the drink by mixing it with water.

The Sevusevu ceremony is the most common way of exchanging kava. Whenever someone comes to a village or a home as a guest, a Sevusevu must be performed, requesting permission to enter. The host reciprocates by allowing entrance and showing respect for he place of the guests origin. Many Fijians carry kava with them when traveling.

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Yaqona is a central ingredient in life. Mildly psychoactive, the drink eventually produces a soporific effect. People become more congenial with moderate drinking. As drinking proceeds, people become more relaxed and mellow, eventually entering a state of total relaxation in which talk becomes less frequent and they start getting sleepy. The ceremonial use is highly ritualized, from the accepting to the mixing and the drinking. The drink is served in the tanoa, a wooden bowl, a drunk from coconut halves. The participants with the highest status always get served first, and only one person may drink at a time. The round is finished when all that are supposed to drink are finished, and silence is observed during much of the ritual. On less formal occasions, jokes and stories are being told and the atmosphere is more spirited.

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