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SUVA, Fiji (Fiji Sun, Oct. 23) – It took four months for the vanua of Lau to prepare traditional gifts for the final traditional Fiji ritual, known as the vakataraisulu, for the late high chief of Rewa, Ro Lady Lala Mara.

The Assistant Roko in Lakeba, Lau - Lewai Uluiqalau - said that all traditional gifts that were presented during the vakataraisulu were new and special, dedicated to the ceremony.

Mr. Uluiqalau said after the vakataraisulu to the late Tui Nayau Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara, villages were geared up in preparation for the ritual for Radini Nayau, Lady Lala Mara.

"All villages knew the type of crafts to make and they worked around the clock to complete their work before the ceremony of vakataraisulu commenced on Friday," Mr. Uluiqalau said.

At last Friday’s ceremony, the people of Lau presented 20 tanoa, coconut woven baskets filled with oil, a traditional canoe, lalis, bales of material, fine mats and 100 meters of masi.

Mr. Uluiqalau said this was the moment to show their last respect to Ro Lady Lala Mara. But the atmosphere at Cuvu was totally different when the Vuanirewa clan of Tubou led by Ratu Kamisese Mara’s son Ratu Finau Mara who was dressed in a chiefly traditional attire and followed by his sisters Adi Koila Nailatikau, Adi Kakua Mara, Adi Litia Dugdale and Adi Elenoa Mara presented whales teeth at the main shed where Na Ka Levu and Tui Nadroga, Ratu Sakiusa Makutu was sitting.

Lady Lala Maras’s grandchildren were also dressed in traditional attire. A group of men and women of Lau followed the Vuanirewa clan with its 100 meters of masi which they presented to Ratu Sakiusa.

It was the ceremony to mark the lifting of the one-year mourning period and it was also the moment to re-unite chiefly family ties of the three confederacies, Kubuna, Burebasaga and Tovata.

The hot and sunny weather, which covered the village of Cuvu in Nadroga on Friday, did not deter thousands of people waiting in vain to witness the final traditional ritual to the late Lady Lala Mara.

People were sitting for hours under the trees to have a glimpse of the ceremony that captured the attention of many with the beautiful traditional gifts lying at Cuvu ground.

The delegation from Burebasaga presented their last traditional gifts to Ratu Sakiusa, which were just indescribable, with comments from some people that these were traditional Fijian items.

Leading the delegation was the Vunivalu of Rewa Ro Jone Mataitini with Tui Noco Ratu Josaia Rayawa and followed by Na Marama Bale na Roko Tui Dreketi Ro Teimumu Kepa with a traditional costume attire and whale’s teeth presented to Ratu Sakiusa. The ceremony came to an end with the presentation of whale’s teeth to Ratu Sakiusa by Ro Jone Mataitini who said it was the day that could not be compared to other days because the reunion of the Kubuna, Tovata and Burebasaga confederacies showed the strongest blood ties within chiefly households and it also could not be measured. Ro Jone also asked the people of Nadroga to continue to show their love and care to the Mara children because of their chiefly status.

[PIR editor’s notes: Lau (The Lau Group) is the group of islands in the eastern region of Fiji.]

October 24, 2005

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