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NUKUALOFA, Tonga (Tonga Now, September 27) - Tonga's HRH Princess Pilolevu Tuita and her female first cousins will have their hair trimmed in accordance with tradition as a mark of respect and honor for the passing of His Late Majesty King Taufa'ahau Tupou IV.

The event should take place this Friday, September 29, marking the first 10 nights following the burial of the late king.

The Ha'amo, or the giving of funeral presentations, also ends Friday.

As is customary, the hair cutting ceremony is for daughters, and for those who are "liongi," or of lower rank in the family (tu’a), particularly brothers and their children.

The sister's family holds higher rank and does not have its hair cut.

As such, the cutting is done by the "fahu," or the eldest sister of the father.

As His Late Majesty and his brother the Late Prince Tu'ipelehake's father had no sister, which subsequently meant their children have no fahu, a member of the Maori royal family may have to carry it out.

As a foreigner who is also of royal blood, the Maori Princess may be the only one to touch the hair of the princesses of Tonga .

This will include HRH Princess Siu'ilikutapu Kalanivalu-Fotofili and her sisters, together with Princess Pilolevu.

According to Baron Vaea's sister, Palu Vava'u, the ceremony takes place on the Pongipongi Tapu.

She said it is a part of our culture that when someone dies, his children and those of the lower ranking side and of the father's brother's side, show their ultimate deference for the deceased by cutting their hair.

Last week, HM the Late King's granddaughter, Hon. Lupepau'u Fusitu'a, had to carry out an impromptu hair cutting ceremony for many of the king's liongi relatives who had to return overseas. These relatives included, amongst others, the children and grandchildren of the Ha'a Kupu, and the children and grandchildren of Vuna. This should have all been carried out after the 10th Night, says Palu Vava'u, but many had to hasten back to their places of residence.

It is just one of a few changes that culture has had to conform to.

Palu Vava'u says in ancient times, the liongi or those who are tu'a had to have their hair and eyebrows completely shaven to show their respect. She said fortunately today while the custom is still maintained, a cut is all that is needed. Furthermore, it is no longer forced and those who do it willingly are better admired for the deep respect and reverence they show their father or uncle, which is powerfully symbolized, not only by the worn and frayed oversized ta'ovala, but especially by very shortly cropped hair.

September 28, 2006

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