Sunday, November 15, 2009

Fijian Mythology

Traditionally, Fijians have attributed unexplained phenomena to gods, spirits, or witchcraft. In Fijian mythology, there are gods and spirits that bring prosperity and misfortune, along with those for the afterlife. They would pray to these gods for things such as victory in a war, successful fishing, and healing of an illness.

These are some of the aspects of Fijian mythology:

Bulu is a name for the "world of spirits", assumingly the underworld, or afterlife. During a month called "Vula-i-Ratumaibulu" in Fiji, the god, Ratumaibulu, who is in charge of agriculture, comes to the Earth from Bulu to grow the fruits from breadfruit and other fruit trees.

Of the recognized gods in Fiji, Degei was the most important. According to mythology, he lived on the slopes of the Kauvadra Mountains near the Ra Coast, which is also said to be around the location where the Fijian people originated. Besides being considered the origin of the Fijians, he was also said to be a giant snake that resided within a cave at the highest peak of the mountain range. However, he took no interest in his people's affairs, and thunder and earth tremors were said to be his uneasy turning and movement inside the cave. Traditionally in Fiji, snakes have also been highly regarded because of Degei.

Burotu is the name of the paradise-underworld (equivilent to "Heaven" in Christianity). This is the place where the "good" newly-dead souls, who are judged by Degei, will go.

Murimuria is the "darker" part of the underworld (similar to "Hell" in Christianity). The souls who do not go to Burotu will be thrown into a lake and will eventually sink to the bottom where Murimuria is located. There, they will be rewarded or punished accordingly.

Nabangatai is the name of a village in the underworld that is inhabited by dead souls. It is said to be found on the road to Bulu.

According to mythology, Ravuyalo was the "soul-slayer", probably found in or around Murimuria, whose purpose was to club departed spirits. Different methods had been thought up to outwit him.

Dakuwaqa was the god of fishing communities and seafaring, though he was also considered to be the god of adultery. He was said to manifest himself as a large shark that resided in a cave on Benau Island. To gain his favor, all sharks were saluted when they were seen, and people in canoes would throw pieces of food and cups of Yaqona, the traditional Fijian drink, into the water when they passed by areas of sea that Dakuwaqa was said to frequent. It was also considered taboo in Fiji to eat shark flesh.

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