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Travel Show: Fiji extends a special welcome with a ceremony

February 23, 2013|By Tracy Brown
  • Jesom Tuikana, Joji Ramasima and Paula Rokotuiveikan Nabuta prepare the ceremonial kava drink.
Jesom Tuikana, Joji Ramasima and Paula Rokotuiveikan Nabuta prepare the… (Tracy Brown )

Navigating through the floor of the L.A. Times Travel Show is a mini-cultural exploration of its own. You can stop by the Guam booth and watch traditional dancers perform, or listen to live sanshin music as you pass by the Okinawa booth.

You can also stop by the Fiji booth tucked away by the Xtreme Adventure stage and the rock climbing wall and participate in a cultural activity firsthand. The booth features special guests Joji Ramasima, Jesom Tuikana and Paula Rokotuiveikan Nabuta — dancers and musicians studying at the Conservatorium of Music in Fiji.

Dressed in traditional attire, the three young men were sitting on a woven mat spread out on the floor of the booth around a bowl preparing for a traditional kava ceremony. Kava is the ceremonial drink of Fiji, made from the root of a pepper plant.

They prepared the kava in the booth by straining some kava powder through a cloth and mixing it in a bowl with water, creating a muddy-looking liquid (but don't let that deter you). They asked people who had stopped to observe them to join their circle on the floor and taught the proper steps to participate in the ceremony.

First they explained the difference between "high tide" and "low tide." If a person wants a full bowl of kava, he or she asks for "high tide. "Low tide" indicates a desire for a smaller portion. Tip: If you are unsure of consuming kava for the first time, ask for "low tide."

They then explained that when participating, you clap once to indicate your desire for some kava. After they portion some of the drink, you grasp the small coconut-shell bowl they offer and drink all of it in one gulp. You then return the bowl to the person who served you and clap three times.

Joji, Jeson and Paula explained that the kava ceremony is usually reserved for special guests such as their chief. They described it as being like a welcoming ceremony, and their friendly demeanor definitely added to the welcoming experience.

If you miss the kava ceremony, you can still catch the trio performing music in the booth on Sunday. The doors to the show open at 10 a.m.

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