Recently in Kava Category

kava.jpgHere are residents of Tokou village enjoying some kava in their brand new community hall. In exchange for Seacology providing funds for the hall, Tokouans established a 365-acre marine reserve. (more project info here: http://bit.ly/xtaX4l)

Fiji Travel With Seacology

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In August 2008 a Seacology group traveled to Fiji to open two new projects. In Ketei Village, located on the Fijian island of Vanua Levu Seacology funded the construction of a community center in exchange for the creation of a 900-acre forest reserve. Our visit to Ketei began with a traditional kava ceremony. Kava is the ground up root of a pepper plant which acts as a calming agent. It has been the center of Fijian traditional life for hundreds of years. (Right, water is being poured into a kava bowl to begin the kava ceremony.)

Polynesians share many similar cultural traits, from language and music to family structure. One of the most sacred of Polynesian traditions, the kava ceremony, is also one of the most well-known. Tasting like a wet dish towel to my unrefined palette, kava is a relaxant which was banned in 2003 by several countries because of medical concerns. A recent push to lift that ban (Fiji Times article, September 24) and a new University of Hawai'i study (Honolulu Advertiser article by Dan Nakaso, September 22) brings kava back into the news. Despite these developments, it is the tradition of the kava ceremony that interests me most.

Kava has many names: 'ava in Samoa, 'awa in Hawai'i, yaqona in Fiji, and sakau in Micronesia. The drink is made from the ground root of the pepper plant Piper methysticum. The root, a long beige stick about 2 inches in diameter, is ground to a pulp and then massaged in a sack made from coconut fiber and mixed with water to make the juice. The drink is collected in a wooden bowl with legs and one uses a half-coconut shell to scoop the liquid.