Monday, June 04, 2007

Levuka religious experince

On our last evening in Levuka we were headed in for a dinner ashore. On our way we noticed a big crowd assembled on the pier where we normally land the dinghy. We assumed the crowd to be associated with a ferry also tied to the pier. Returning from dinner several hours later the crowd had grown considerably, with some men dressed in traditional clothing and many children toted kerosene soaked bamboo torches. If ones imagination were to run wild it could appear that we had arrived just in time to be the main course for dinner! Fijians have a long and interesting history that includes a strong tradition of cannibalism!

Out in the harbor nine "long boats" or 25' open fiberglass skiffs circled with growing excitement. The pleasant night air was filled with soulful Fijian song. It was Sunday evening and local Catholics had sent a huge ten foot cross to Rome to be blessed by the Pope. The cross was back and about to land on the pier. Minutes later the scene took on a warm flickering glow as the bamboo torches were lit and acidic kerosene smoke filled the air as young children brandished their billowing torches. A crescendo of song foretold the excitement as the cross was passed ashore from the long boats. We were invited to touch the giant wooden cross as it passed by, and we did. More song and prayers before the procession, hundreds strong, proceeded slowly to the beautiful waterfront church. We we anchored just outside the church and noticed in the morning that song and prayer continued through the night until sunrise when the devoted finally broke and headed home.

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