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Fiji Myths and Legends

By Shane Hussein Posted 24 Mar 2014

A hidden island paradise isolated from the rest of the world by treacherous empty seas and endless blue sky. Its people, great seafarers with their intricately carved vessels, sing songs of their Gods and of the picturesque nature around them. Their place is beautiful and terrifying, built on myth and fantasy. Their place is Fiji.
The beauty of Fiji’s stunning archipelago is not just in its geography but also in its richly woven culture. Here are some of the more well-known fables and legends of the island nation:

Fiji’s Foundations

Fiji’s rich tapestry of myths and legends have a number of key players of how all life came to be, including Dakuwaga the Shark God, the Sacred Turtles of Kadvu and the Red Prawns of Vatulele. But Fiji’s primary origin myth concerns their Snake God, Degei. Degei is considered the greatest of all the Gods and had a hawk companion who one day spurned him having found a mate. One day, Degei found two eggs in her nest and took them back to his home where he kept them warm for weeks. When the eggs hatched, two humans were born. He fed them until they could look after themselves and populate the earth.
These Gods of the old religion are still revered and consulted today and Friedrich Ratzel in The History of Mankind noted that in some traditions of the country, Degei was tattooed on women. Degei is also associated as the God of earthquakes, storms and seasons.

Fiji’s First Settlers

Another story of origin in Fiji revolved around the great warrior, Chief Lutanasobasoba who hailed from Tanganyika in Egypt. According to legend, Chief Lutanasobasoba was leading an armada across the seas with a special cargo - the treasures from the Temple of King Solomon and a box with mystical properties called the Katonimana:“Box of Blessing.”

Upon passing what is now known as the Yasawas Islands, the armada hit rough seas and the Katonimana was flung overboard. Chief Lutanasobasoba ordered the armada to let it go as it was the will of the Gods, and forbade anyone to try and retrieve it. However, one of his generals, Degei, later returned and, as legend says, he was transformed into a snake with a diamond pattern marked on his head and was trapped in an ocean cave for the rest of his days. That cave is believed to be Sawa-i-lau on the Yasawas Islands and can be visited today when accompanied by an expert guide.
 
Chief Lutansobasoba’s armada is said to have landed at Vuda Point and established the first settlement in Fiji at Viseisei, on the west coast of Fiji’s main island, Viti Levu. Viseisei is located just 15 minutes from Nadi International Airport and contains the archaeological remains of the ancient settlement believed to be dated around 1500 BC. Another settlement was later established in the nearby mountains at Vaturu and at Nakauvadra, near Mount Victoria.

Cannibalism

Why not strictly legend, the life of Ratu Udre Udre, a Fijian Chief, who holds the Guinness World Record as the world’s “most prolific cannibal” is definitely part of Fiji’s folklore. In the 19th Century, he reportedly ate between 872 and 999 people with the common belief that he would have become immortal after eating 1,000 people. His tomb still exists and can be visited at Rakiraki, in north Viti Levu. It is accompanied by 873 stones, which Ratu Udre Udre was said to have collected for each person he ate.

The Tagimoucia Flower

Often referred to as Fiji’s Garden Island, Taveuni is home to one of the world’s rarest species of flora called Tagimoucia. Deservingly, this beautiful flower is also the national flower of Fiji and the legend behind its origin is as romantic as they come.

There was once a beautiful princess whose father had betrothed her to an ugly old man. Distraught, she ran through the forest until she collapsed on the bank of a lake atop a tangle of vines. Her tears when they hit the stems of the vines bloomed into red flowers - the Tagimoucia, which translates as “crying tears of despair.”
If you visit Taveuni, hire a guide to take you up the mountains to Lake Tagimoucia, where you can see this spectacular flower and go for a dip in the exquisite virtually untouched lake.
 
These are among the many wonderful myths and legends that inform this beautiful culture in this mystical tropical paradise. If there’s one thing you do in your lifetime, experience the richness of the islands of Fiji. Fly into Viti Levu on with Fiji Airways starting from $AUD 717.00 departing from Sydney.

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