Traditional Courtship in Tonga
(How does boy meet girl in traditional Tonga?)
written by Lolo Masi
In traditional Tonga, or in the outer villages or islands of Tonga
today, they do not have TV. A most popular activity there is to have
a faikava . Faikava means to do or make kava, a traditional,
non-alcoholic beverage, made in a big bowl and served in polished
coconut shells. Kava is the dried roots of a plant which grows in
Tonga. The roots are pulverized with two hard, smooth stones at the
faikava, and put into the bowl. Water is added, it is mixed, strained,
and served to all who sit around the kava bowl.
It is common for a boy to ask a girl to make kava. This happens
often, especially in the evenings, and anyone who hears about it is
welcome to partake. The boy can stop by the girl's house almost any
time of day or evening and just ask and/or arrange a time for the
faikava. She rarely refuses.
He arrives, usually at her house, with friends. He will perhaps
sit next to the girl and assist by breaking up the kava root or by
pouring water into the bowl, while she does the mixing. Every few
minutes or so, someone (or anyone who wishes) calls for kava to be
drunk. So she stirs the kava in the bowl, and pours the kava drink into
coconut shells which are passed around to all sitting at the faikava.
Around the kava circle, people talk about anything at all and sometimes
sing songs. Sometimes no one speaks, but everyone is relaxed. After
a few hours or so, people usually get tired and start to leave. Here
is where the story of courtship continues.
The boy who is interested in the girl lingers on. Eventually,
everyone leaves the faikava except him. When the two are alone, talking
together, it is called, aa aa in the Tongan language [pronounced,
ahh, ahh]. Actually, the girl's mother is watching from a secret place,
perhaps behind a curtain. Now if this continues into the night and on
until sunrise, it is called aa aa aho 'ia [To aa aa (talk alone),
into the next day (aho 'ia )]. To aa aa with a girl is a subject that
does not go without notice, but to aa aa aho 'ia is of greatest
interest and is known or talked about by all the people in the village
No one can look at the boy without thinking about the girl.
When someone sees the boy they might, for example, call him by the
girl's father's name, or make similar jokes or references to her, her
family, or place of residence. In this way, the local community joins
in the boy's and girl's relationship, and the talk (or gossip) doesn't
stop until the couple either stop seeing each other or get married !
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