Kava culture


Kava culture

Kava culture refers to the cultures of western Oceania which consume kava, and the religious and cultural traditions associated with it. There are similarities in the use of kava between the different cultures, but each one also has its own traditions.

Hawaiokinai

In Hawaiokinai, at least 30 varieties of okinaawa (kava) were used for medicinal, religious, political, cultural and social purposes by all social classes, both men and women. Kava is the original pau hana drink of working people to relax and ease achy muscles. Kava was also given to fussy babies and children to calm them and help them sleep.
In 1992 during a presidential campaign visit to Hawaii, Hillary Clinton participated in a kava ceremony conducted by the Samoan community on O'ahu.

Vanuatu

In Vanuatu, kava is drunk at night in a place called nakamal ("place for peace"). Nakamals are village clubhouses and usually only for men (women are barred from coming here). Men normally drink it from a glass or plastic bowl or an empty coconut shell in kastam (traditional) -bars, which are open to both men and women. In these venues the emphasis is more on recreational purposes and socializing than on the spiritual or medicinal qualities of kava consumption.

Tonga

In Tonga, kava is drunk nightly at "kalapu" (Tongan for "club"), which is also called a "faikava" ("to do kava"). Only men are allowed to drink the kava, although women who serve it may be present. The female server is usually an unmarried, young woman called the "touokinaa." In the past, this was a position reserved for women being courted by an unmarried male, and much respect was shown. These days, it is imperative that the touokinaa not be related to anyone in the kalapu, and if someone is found to be a relative of the touokinaa, he (not the touokinaa) will leave the club for that night; otherwise the brother-sister taboo would make it impossible to talk openly especilly courtship. Foreign girls, especially volunteer workers from overseas are often invited to be a touokinaa for a night but to do so they must not take offense too easily, as these days touokinaas can be treated quite in a sexist manner. If no female touokinaa can be found, or it is such a small, very informal gathering, one of the men will do the job of serving the kava root. This is humorously called fakatangata (all-man) or more humorously, a kaikuli (eating dog.)

The kava is served in rounds. Typically the touokinaa will first stir the kava in the "kumete", then pour some in the "ipu" (coconut cups) which are then passed from hand to hand to those sitting farthest away. They drink, and the empty cups are returned again from hand to hand. Everybody remains seated, cross-legged, although one is allowed to stretch the legs from time to time. Meanwhile the touokinaa has filled other cups for those next from the farthest away, and so the drinking goes forth until those nearest to the "kumete" have had their drink too. Then the men talk again (about politics, sports, tradition & culture, jokes, or anything else) or they will sing a traditional love song, often accompanied by guitar. Some now-famous string bands have had their origin at a "faikava". Finally the next drinking round starts.

In some of the outer islands of Tonga, kava is drunk almost every night, but on the main island, Tongatapu, it is usually drunk only on Wednesday and Saturday nights. Kava drinking frequently lasts as long as eight or nine hours. With the introduction of television, rugby is usually watched by the kava drinkers, and the songs are sung in the commercial breaks. On Saturday nights, a short pause for prayer is made at midnight (as the day moves to Sunday), and then hymns replace the love songs. These hymns are mostly traditional English melodies with new words in Tongan.

All important occasions are also marked by drinking kava, including weddings, funerals, and all church-related functions. For example, when a new king takes his throne or a new chief is established in his title, he must participate in the "pongipongi", ancient kava ceremonies to make his rule official. These formal kava parties follow completely different rules. A male chief is now the touokinaa, and the kava is very solemnly prepared by pounding the roots to powder (instead of buying of bag of already pounded kava powder). Once the kava is the right strength (as deduced from the colour), the ceremony master will call out the nickname of the first recipient using an old archaic formula ("kava kuo heka"). The touokinaa will fill the cup and the cup is then brought, often by a young lady, to the intended chief, and brought back afterwards. Then the next name is called, and so forth.

okinaUvea (Wallis)

On okinaUvea (Wallis Island) the informal kava parties are like those of Tonga, except that the cups are not passed from hand to hand, but young boys are appointed to run around, bringing the cups to the next person (as in the formal Tongan ceremony)When they get the kava they pass it to the next person on the side or to the person who haven't had one and the young one they are the one to go and get the water to mix with the kava.

Futuna

On Futuna kava drinking is used to install a new chief, much as in Tonga.

Fiji

In Fiji, kava (also called "grog" or "yaqona") is part of the fabric of life, drunk nightly by families and also used for important political and social events. The importance of the kava in Fiji is not so much physical, but a psychological event where stories are told and jokes bantered. It is often seen as a peace pipe between quarreling groups. During a visit to Fiji, the late Pope John Paul II drank a cup of yaqona during a traditional welcoming ceremony.

Rotuma

In Rotuma, kava has two contexts, ceremonial and informal. The kava ceremony, when it functions as part of any ceremonial event, is a highly political affair, with individuals served according to rank. In pre-European times, the kava was chewed by virgin girls, (marked by caked limestone on their hair), before it was mixed with the water to make the drink. Prior to European influences the kava ceremony was carried out with chewing and serving done by chiefly virgins, and mixing done by older, experienced and culturally aware women.

Nowadays, in the informal, social context Rotuman men commonly drink kava to relax, often while singing and dancing, and in some instances mix it with alcohol, evidence to its cultural shift in Rotuman society.

External links

* [http://www.nakamalathome.com/Kava/History_Kava/The_History_of_Kava/ Nakamal Kava Drinking (Kava Culture)]
* [http://www.kavakane.to/ History, chemistry, and so on concerning kava]
* [http://www.fijiguide.com/Facts/kava.html Fiji Guide (Kava Facts)]
* [http://www.nakava.com/ Kava Drinking in America (Kava Bar)]


Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Kava — This article is about the kava plant. For the class of pharmacological derivatives, see Kavalactone. For other uses, see Kava (disambiguation). Kava Young Piper methysticum Sci …   Wikipedia

  • Culture of Tonga — Tonga College students performing a Kailao dance The Tongan archipelago has been inhabited for perhaps 3000 years, since settlement in late Lapita times. The culture of its inhabitants has surely changed greatly over this long time period. Before …   Wikipedia

  • Culture of Fiji — Fiji s culture is a tapestry of indigenous Fijian, Indian, European, Chinese, and other nationalities. Culture polity, traditions, language, food, costume, belief system, architecture, arts, craft, music, dance and sports which will be discussed… …   Wikipedia

  • Culture of Samoa — Samoan male warrior c. 1896 The traditional culture of Samoa is a communal way of life based on Fa a Samoa, the unique socio political culture of Samoa. In Samoan culture, most activities are done together. There are 3 main parts in the Samoan… …   Wikipedia

  • Culture of New Zealand — The Kiwi has become a New Zealand icon. The culture of New Zealand is largely inherited from British and European custom, interwoven with Maori and Polynesian tradition. An isolated Pacific Island nation, New Zealand was comparatively recently… …   Wikipedia

  • Culture of the Marquesas Islands — Marquesans performing a Haka dance The Marquesas Islands were colonized by sea faring Polynesians as early as 300 A.D., thought to originate from Samoa. The dense population was concentrated in the narrow valleys, and consisted of warring tribes …   Wikipedia

  • Culture of Hawaii — Traditional Polynesian dancers performing near Waikiki beach, on Oahu. The culture of Hawaii has its origins in the traditional culture of the Native Hawaiians. As Hawaii has become home to many different ethnic groups during the past 200 years,… …   Wikipedia

  • Culture of the Solomon Islands — Vella Lavella girl with painted face and shell ear ornaments, c. 1900 Contents 1 …   Wikipedia

  • Culture of Vanuatu — Funeral masks, Malakula Island …   Wikipedia

  • Culture of Nauru — File:Nauruan people meeting1.jpg Nauruan people The displacement of the conventional Culture of Nauru by contemporary western influences is very clearly visible on the island. Only little remains preserved from the old customs. The traditions of… …   Wikipedia


Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.