Last weekend, while in the village, I got to take part in many kava festivities. Fiji is known for their kava, but I had not heard of it until I started researching Fiji.
Kava is a plant, and when the root is dried, grinded and mixed with water it produces a drink (also called kava or called grog). Grog is drunk for many occasions including welcome and farewell ceremonies, celebrations or just in the evenings. They have one communal bowl, called the tanoa, and everyone drinks from bilos (cups made out of coconut shells usually) that everyone shares. To drink it you have to follow certain rituals involving clapping and saying certain words.
the kava plant
grog in the tanoa
Depending on the strength and how much you drink, your mouth may go numb or a little tingly. Drinking grog is supposed to make you more relaxed. Everyone has been saying that it is better than alcohol because you don’t get a hangover! It is an anaesthetic and a sedative.
While we were in the village, we all drank kava when we performed our sevusevu. When you enter a Fijian village for the first time, it is the most polite to approach the chief of the village through a ceremony, present him with some kava and ask for permission to use the land (whether you’re visiting, volunteering, exploring, etc). He will say whether you are welcome or not welcome. Grog is drunk.
picture by Megan
The first night we were there, a lot of us stayed up really late and drank kava with the villagers. The boys I were sitting with would ask me whether I wanted a bowl “low-tide”, “high-tide” or “TSUNAMI”. (One other thing is that you’re supposed to drink it all at once so tsumani bowls are bit overwhelming) It was fun chatting with them.
I woke up the second day with a horrible sore throat (was really nervous it was strep again but cheered the first time I sneezed) so I didn’t stay up all night and didn’t drink much kava. Pretty sure someone infected the grog. The locals said that drinking more kava would help my cold, haha. We had an early start on the day we were leaving (4:30AM) so some people stayed up all night and drank grog through the night. I went to bed around 12:00 and when I woke up the villagers were STILL DRINKING GROG!! Very hardcore.
If you stay at a resort, it’s possible that you can try grog or do a village tour where they can take you to a sevusevu. I tried it at Mango Bay with the FeeJee Experience group that was also staying in the dorms (a tour company for young adults).