Tulou! You Need to Learn Fijian Manners and Etiquettes
Fiji is a nation of happy, easy-going, and gentle people. But if you’re visiting a village, wear modest clothing, don’t wear sunglasses, take off your hat, leave your shoes outside the house, and behave respectfully.
Such manners and etiquettes are observed when in Fiji. Don’t get us wrong –Fijians are one of the friendliest people in the world. But showing respect for the country’s traditions and customs pave a long way.
Speak their language
English is the most commonly used language in the language, but why not pay your respects by learning their mother tongue? A little bula and vinaka to the locals can make their day. Appreciate and revel the culture and traditions of Fijians, and they’ll call you a comrade or a brother in the end.
Basic language to learn:
Bula = Hello!
Vacava tiko? = How are you?
Kerekere = Please
Vosota sara = I’m sorry
Vinaka = Thank you!
Take time to greet people when passing by, especially in communities and villages, where residents are close-knit to one another. Walking straight without a bula or a nod can be seen as a sign of disrespect.
Get to learn basic etiquettes by:
Knowing ‘Fiji Time’ as a relaxed pace.
Keeping your loud voice down. A raised voice is considered a sign of anger and rudeness.
Wait for someone to bless a meal before eating.
When visiting a village
When visiting a village, understand that it’s their private place and you should be respectful at all times. Always announce your arrival before you enter the village.
What to expect when visiting a village:
Dress respectfully and modestly.
Avoid wearing hats, shoulder bags, and sunglasses.
When arriving in a village, give the turanga ni koro (village headman) a gift (sevusevu). Acceptable gifts are kava, books, and toys.
Remove your shoes before entering a Fijian household.
Shake hands with everyone in the room and accept drinking kava.
Be cautious with your praise. Fijians will feel obliged to give the gift. Don’t mishandle their generosity.
If you plan to spend a night in a village, offer your host a token or gift of similar value.
Always take note that some villages are stricter in following traditional protocols. Do ask your guide for tips before venturing to one.
Too many people get confused about how someone delivers their verbal and body language. In Fiji, there are certain dos and don’ts one should know.
Respect people’s faith and try to be polite and respectful at all times.
Never criticize Fiji’s social, customs, and traditional values.
Fijians talk in a softer volume and expect you to do the same to avoid disrupting the peace.
Avoid pointing with your index to people and instead use an open palm.
The head is the most sacred part of the body. Avoid touching or patting someone’s head including children.
Getting to know the culture of one country is rewarding. Respecting the cultural traditions is a sign of mutual warmth, inviting, and welcoming character of the Fijian people.