August 15, 2010

assumption day

assumption day, or the day the virgin of charity; is a very important religious ceremony celebrated in wallis. it is a day of worship and an opportunity to donate money to the community to help the ones that need it the most. everyone from the three main districts of the island gathered at the main village to celebrate. the king and all the ministers presided the celebration and were seated at the center of the stage. we were lucky to be in the island and have been invited to such a picturesque celebration. the entire day of festivities included:

a parade with all men, women and children covered in flowers and carpets bringing foods, tapas, and offerings to share with the community. music and dances with the local dresses where the dancers asked for money for their communities and while they danced for hours, the spectators gave them money which was either deposited in a basket in the middle of the yard where they were dancing or somehow placed in the dancer’s bodies, in their heads or inside their clothes.

there was also a big feast and everyone that attended was invited to eat lamp, pork, shrimp, salads, chicken and just about every type of food imaginable. There was a display of flags made form different pareos form the island. most impressive of all, there was a ceremonial blessing of the offerings which were huge wild pork cooked by the different families and placed on the grass in the center of the ceremonies. after they were each blessed one by one by a committee they were carried back to the different houses to be eaten by the families. these animals, once cooked weight hundreds of kilos. they are emptied inside and then filled with hot stones to cook their meat. the stones are left inside and to lift every animal becomes a job of up to ten very big men… they must have done this 100 times as there were over tha many cooked wild pork on the yard… a truly shocking image! quite unique.

at the end of the ceremony we went on a dinghi trip around the island and back to the boat to rest after so much food we eat. we talked about the dresses and music and dances, and mostly the animals for days after the festivities. we were very impressed with the generosity of the people in wallis and their beautiful celebration.

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