Kava culture

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

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Fiji

In Fiji, kava (also called "grog" or "yaqona") is drunk at all times of day in both public and private settings. The consumption of the drink is a form of welcome and figures in important socio-political events. Both genders drink kava.

Futuna

On Futuna kava drinking is used to install a new chief.

Hawaiʻi

In Hawaiʻi, at least 13 varieties of ʻawa (kava) have been used for medicinal, religious, political, cultural and social purposes by all social classes, and by both men and women. Although there are 13 distinct cultivars from Hawaiʻi there are a number of other cultivars found throughout the islands bought in from other locations in Oceania.

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.

Samoa

In Samoa, kava (called 'ava) is drunk at all important gatherings and ceremonies. The kava is prepared by a group of people called aumaga. It is brought to each participant by the tautua'ava, or 'ava server, in the order prescribed by the tufa'ava, or 'ava distributor. Usually, the highest chief of the visiting party is served first, followed by the highest chief of the host party, and then service proceeds based on the rank of the rest of the participants. The drink is served in a polished coconut half. The overall ceremony is highly ritualized, with specific gestures and phrases to be used at various times. Kava is usually mixed by a high chief's daughter at any ceremony, but in a content where the chief's daughter is not present, then one of the "'aumaga" will have to mix it.

Tonga

A typical informal faikava in Tonga with the tou`a serving the men. Faikava.jpg
A typical informal faikava in Tonga with the touʻa serving the men.

In Tonga, kava is like alcohol and 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 "touʻa." 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 touʻa not be related to anyone in the kalapu, and if someone is found to be a relative of the touʻa, he (not the touʻa) will leave the club for that night; otherwise the brother-sister taboo would make it impossible to talk openly, especially about courtship. Foreign girls, especially volunteer workers from overseas are often invited to be a touʻa for a night. If no female touʻa 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 called fakatangata ("all-man").

The kava is served in rounds. Typically the touʻa 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 touʻa 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 of 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.

Formal versions

All important occasions are also marked by a more formal ritual of drinking kava, including weddings, funerals, graduation from university, and royal occasions. A formal kava ceremony is a component of the accession rites for a King of Tonga, who must participate in the pongipongi to make his rule official.

Formal kava parties follow completely different rules. A male chief is now the touʻa, and the kava is very solemnly prepared by pounding the roots to powder (instead of buying bags of pre-pounded kava powder). Once the kava is of the right strength, as deduced from its colour, the master of ceremonies will call out the nickname of the first recipient using an archaic formula (kava kuo heka). The touʻa 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.

ʻUvea (Wallis)

In ʻUvea (Wallis Island) during the informal kava parties, the cups are passed by young boys who are appointed to run around, bringing the cups to the next person. When they get the kava, they pass it to the next person on the side or to the person who has not had one, and the young ones go and get the water to mix with the kava.

Vanuatu

In Vanuatu, kava is traditionally drunk at night in a place called a nakamal. Nakamals are village club houses and in many areas are open only to men. Kava is normally drunk from an empty coconut shell.

In urban areas of Vanuatu there are large numbers of kava bars, which are open to men and in some cases, women. The availability of kava is signalled by a lantern at the entrance, and many kava bars are identified by the colour of their light. In these bars, kava is generally served in plastic or glass bowls instead of coconut shells.

In all these venues the emphasis is more on recreational purposes and socializing than on the spiritual or medicinal qualities of kava consumption.

In northern and central Vanuatu, kava roots are traditionally ground using hand-held stone grinders, while in southern Vanuatu the traditional method of preparation involves chewing the roots, then spitting the resulting paste into a container. Current methods involve preparation in rams (in which kava is pounded in a section of pipe), meat-mincers, and mechanical grinders. After grinding the kava is mixed with water and sieved before serving.

The residue from kava preparation, known as makas (a Bislama term derived from megasse "sugar cane residue"), may be re-used to prepare additional batches of the drink, although these are much weaker than the original batch.[ citation needed ]

On Survivor: Vanuatu, contestant Chad Crittenden briefly fell ill after drinking a rather potent kava during a native ceremony he attended as a reward.

Continental United States

Kava is legal in the United States and is often served in specialty kava bars. [1] [2] Patrons at kava bars vary from those who use it recreationally (similar to alcohol or legal recreational marijuana in states with licensed retailers) and those who believe in its healing effects, though these have not been proven or tested by the FDA. Kava is sometimes served in the United States alongside the more controversial kratom, [3] a leaf with effects similar to opiates when served as a tea or brew. The first kava bar in the United States, Nakava, was opened in Boca Raton, Florida in 2000.

See also

Related Research Articles

Tonga Country in the South Pacific

Tonga, officially named the Kingdom of Tonga, is a Polynesian country, and also an archipelago comprising 169 islands, of which 36 are inhabited. The archipelago's total surface area is about 750 square kilometres (290 sq mi) scattered over 700,000 square kilometres (270,000 sq mi) of the southern Pacific Ocean. As of 2016, Tonga had a population of 100,651, 70% of whom resided on the main island, Tongatapu.

Kava Species of plant

Kava or kava kava is a crop of the Pacific Islands. The name kava is from Tongan and Marquesan, meaning 'bitter'; other names for kava include ʻawa (Hawaiʻi), ʻava (Samoa), yaqona or yagona (Fiji), sakau (Pohnpei), seka (Kosrae), and malok or malogu. Kava is consumed for its sedating effects throughout the Pacific Ocean cultures of Polynesia, including Hawaii, Vanuatu, Melanesia, and some parts of Micronesia, such as Palau. To a lesser extent, it is consumed in nations where it is exported as a herbal medicine.

Fijians are a nation and ethnic group native to Fiji, who speak Fijian and share a common history and culture.

The traditional culture of Samoa is a communal way of life based on Fa'a Samoa, the unique socio-political culture. In Samoan culture, most activities are done together. The traditional living quarters, or fale (houses), contain no walls and up to 20 people may sleep on the ground in the same fale. During the day, the fale is used for chatting and relaxing. One's family is viewed as an integral part of a person's life. The aiga or extended family lives and works together. Elders in the family are greatly respected and hold the highest status, and this may be seen at a traditional Sunday umu.

Samoans Indigenous Polynesian people of the Samoan Islands

Samoans or Samoan people are the indigenous Polynesian people of the Samoan Islands, an archipelago in Polynesia, who speak the Samoan language. The group's home islands are politically and geographically divided between the Independent State of Samoa and American Samoa, an unincorporated territory of the United States of America. Though divided by national border, the culture and language are the same.

Pentecost Island

Pentecost Island is one of the 83 islands that make up the South Pacific nation of Vanuatu.

Culture of Tonga

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 the arrival of European explorers in the late 17th and early 18th centuries, the Tongans were in frequent contact with their nearest Oceanic neighbors, Fiji and Samoa. In the 19th century, with the arrival of Western traders and missionaries, Tongan culture changed dramatically. Some old beliefs and habits were thrown away and others adopted. Some accommodations made in the 19th century and early 20th century are now being challenged by changing Western civilization. Hence Tongan culture is far from a unified or monolithic affair, and Tongans themselves may differ strongly as to what it is "Tongan" to do, or not do.

The culture of Fiji is a tapestry of native Fijian, Indian, European, Chinese, and other nationalities. Culture polity traditions, language, food costume, belief system, architecture, arts, craft, music, dance, and sports will be discussed in this article to give you an indication of Fiji's indigenous community but also the various communities which make up Fiji as a modern culture and living. The indigenous culture is an active and living part of everyday life for the majority of the population.

Shefa Province

Shefa is one of the six provinces of Vanuatu, located in the center of the country and including the islands of Epi and Efate and the Shepherd Islands.

otai

ʻotai is a fruit drink which originated in western Polynesia and is usually made as a refreshing accompaniment to large meals.

<i>Nakamal</i>

A nakamal is a traditional meeting place in Vanuatu. It is used for gatherings, ceremonies and the drinking of kava.

Ni-Vanuatu

Ni-Vanuatu is a large group of closely related Melanesian ethnic groups native to the island country of Vanuatu. As such, Ni-Vanuatu are a mixed ethnolinguistic group with a shared ethnogenesis that speak a multitude of languages.

Funerals in Tonga, despite the large Christian influence they have received over the last 150 years or so, are still very much a traditional affair and an important part of the culture of Tonga, especially if it concerns the death of a member of the royal family or a high chief.

Vanuatuan cuisine

The cuisine of Vanuatu incorporates fish, root vegetables such as taro and yams, fruits, and vegetables. Most island families grow food in their gardens, and food shortages are rare. Papayas, pineapples, mangoes, plantains, and sweet potatoes are abundant through much of the year. Coconut milk and cream are used to flavor many dishes. Most food is cooked using hot stones or through boiling and steaming; little food is fried. Since Vanuatu is one of the few South Pacific regions influenced by the outside world, Vanuatu's food has a multicultural nature.

Fijian cuisine Food culture of the Fijian Islands

Fijian cuisine has traditionally been very healthy and a mix of forage and farm based ingredients. Native Fijians prefer a tuber and coconut based diet, however due to colonization, staples such as rice, flour and tea have also become basic goods. Higher calorie ingredients such as cassava, taro and yams has been the staple ingredients grown by natives for thousands of years. Fiji is a multicultural country and is home to people from various races. In most Fijians' homes, food of other cultures is prepared on a regular basis such as Indian curries and Chinese dishes. Fiji is also famous for its seafood and varieties of leafy vegetables such as Bele, a spinach like weed and Otta, a forest fern.

Architecture of Samoa

The architecture of Samoa is characterised by openness, with the design mirroring the culture and life of the Samoan people who inhabit the Samoa Islands. Architectural concepts are incorporated into Samoan proverbs, oratory and metaphors, as well as linking to other art forms in Samoa, such as boat building and tattooing. The spaces outside and inside of traditional Samoan architecture are part of cultural form, ceremony and ritual.

ʻAva ceremony

The ʻava ceremony is one of the most important customs of the Samoa Islands. It is a solemn ritual in which a ceremonial beverage is shared to mark important occasions in Samoan society. The Samoan word ʻava is a cognate of the Polynesian word kava associated with the kava cultures in Oceania. Both terms are understood in Samoa.

Tongan kava ceremonies play an integral part of Tongan society and governance. Ranging from informal “faikava” or kava “parties” to the highly stratified, ancient, and ritualized Taumafa Kava, or Royal Kava Ceremony, Tongan kava ceremonies continue to permeate Tongan society both in Tonga and diaspora, strengthening cultural values and principles, while solidifying traditional ideals of duty and reciprocity, reaffirming societal structures, and entrenching the practice of pukepuke fonua, or tightly holding on to the land, a Tongan cultural ideal to maintain, preserve, and live traditional Tongan culture.

Vanuu Village in Penama Province, Vanuatu

Vanuu, also known as Waterfall Village, is a large settlement on the southwestern coast of Pentecost Island in Vanuatu. The village consists of several scattered groups of houses within an ageing coconut plantation.

References

  1. Montague, Zach (December 21, 2017). "Stressed New Yorkers Take to Kava, 'Nature's Xanax'". New York Times. Retrieved 2018-11-15.
  2. Kava, Kalm with (March 30, 2020). "Kava Bars in the US listed". Blog. Retrieved 2020-03-30.
  3. DiNatale, Sara (2018-03-01). "What is kava? And why does St. Petersburg have so much of it?". Tampa Bay Times. Retrieved 2018-11-15.