Island News

The Lumukilikili tradition

Written By : MARAEA WAQALEVU. We Pacific Islanders have so many traditional practices and rites that are still widely used today. These have all been passed on from past generations.
26 Jul 2008 12:00

image Written By : MARAEA WAQALEVU. We Pacific Islanders have so many traditional practices and rites that are still widely used today.
These have all been passed on from past generations.
You name it; births, weddings, birthdays and even death, we to observe certain practices.
But most of us are comforted by the fact that those traditions are still intact and have a special place in our lives that we still practice them with such vigor.
When a death occurs, related clans and family come together in a religious and social gathering to share their sorrow and reaffirm the connections between them.
It is well known in the Fijian culture how the fourth night of burial is commemorated by close family members and this has been a tradition that had been passed throughout generations.
One such practice commemorated by the people of Lau after the fourth night of burial is what is known as the ‘Lumukilikili’.
As a ‘Lauan’ myself, I must say, I was quite surprised that such a thing has been practiced by my people for generations and I didn’t even know it existed, but I guess being born and bred in the city does that for you.
It wasn’t until my late baby nephew’s four nights was observed that I came to hear about the practice.
And it was indeed exciting to find out the effort taken into the whole ritual to make the outcome so perfect.
Fiji Sun spoke to Vuli Vakacegu Waqalevu of Mavana village in Vanuabalavu about the age old practice.
Mrs Waqalevu said that even though the idea of performing the ‘lumukilikili’ was a difficult task, it was still revered by the people of the Lau.
“The smoothest pebbles are used for the ‘lumukilikili’ and we’re taking hundreds of pebbles depending on the size of the grave and also the best smelling oil to use for the ‘kilikili’,” said Mrs Waqalevu.
The pebbles or stones are called the ‘kilikili’.
When it comes to the day of the ‘lumukilikili’, relatives of the deceased, both maternal and paternal gather together to prepare for the age-old tradition with the practice best observed at dawn.
The eldest from both sides of the family is chosen to take part in the rite and if she is not present, then her eldest daughter gets to perform the ‘lumukilikili’.
Mrs Waqalevu said this was all part of the age-old tradition and one needs to conform to it.
“It has to be the eldest child from both sides of the family and not anyone else that can perform the ‘lumukilikili’.”
She said besides the stones, a number of basins have to be collected as well along with two or three bottles of nicely scented oil.
“These are the three main ingredients so to speak for the ‘lumukilikili’.
“After the stones are gathered and distributed in sizes, they’re than wrapped in a cloth and put in the basin, then the oil is poured over the cloth,” Mrs Waqalevu said.
She said this is done until all the pebbles or stones are oiled with the procession to the gravesite to follow.
Beautiful mats are spread out for the two women who will conduct the ‘lumukilikili’ to sit on and when they’re done with the procedure, the mats are theirs.
“The two women also get to keep the basins used in the ‘lumukilikili’ along with the mats and fine cloth that’s prepared for them,” she said.
Mrs Waqalevu said once they get to the gravesite accompanied by relatives and other family members, the mats, flowers and tapa already decorating the grave is cleared and the party proceeds with arranging the stones on top of the grave site.
“The stones are then neatly arranged on top of the grave and then it is once again covered with mats or tapa and flowers,” she said. Once the ceremony is over, everyone returns home and a feast follows.
Mrs Waqalevu said it would be a great thing for the young people of today to bear in mind the importance of their tradition.
“It’s good for the young ones now days to embrace their traditions and cultures so it is never forgotten and whatever they learn about the tradition today can be taught to their children tomorrow.
“I remember in Mavana, some of the most perfect stones are used as the ‘kilikili’ and these can be found on the beach
“The best smelling oil is used also and the most common one is the ‘lagakali’ which has the most beautiful scent,” she said.
She added the tradition of ‘lumukilikili’ is widely practiced on the island in every death that takes place and would continue to be practiced for years to come and this is not only for Mavana but for the whole of the Lau Group.

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