Feel the Spirit...


Title Banner Degei - The Snake God

The geatest of all Fijian gods was Degei, the Snake god. In the beginning he lived alone, without friends or companions, and the only living creature he knew was Turukawa the hawk. Although the hawk could not speak he was the constant companion of the god.
One day Degei could not find his friend and looked everywhere for him. Days went by and at last one morning he spied the hawk sitting in some long grass. Gladly, he welcomed the bird but, to his consternation, she ignored Degei and commenced building a nest. Disappointed, he retired to his house and the next day went back to the nest and found two eggs. He then realised the hawk had found a mate and that he had lost her affection. So scooping up the eggs he took them into his own house and kept them warm with his own body. After several weeks of nurturing the eggs and wondering what would happen two shells broke and there were two tiny human bodies.
Degei built them a shelter in a vesi tree and fed them on scraps of food. They grew quickly, but there was nobody to teach them except Degei. He did not understand children but when they were hungry he fed them and to save himself work he planted banana trees and root crops close to them. He also talked to them and told them about the secrets of nature. Eventually the children were fully grown and all this time had been unaware of each other's presence as Degei had placed them on opposite sides of the tree.
One day the man left his shelter and as soon as he saw the maiden held out his arms to her and told her Degei had made them for each other and that their children would populate the earth. So Degei showed them how to cook the root vegetables in an earth oven.
Some time later they were blessed with a little baby and Degei also was very happy as he knew that because of loneliness men and women had come into the world and would worship him as their god.
According to Fiji Cultural Legend Degei also created Viti Levu and all the small islands.

Banner: Firewalkers

Many years ago on the island of Beqa (pronounced Mbengga), a tribe called Sawau lived on a mountain village called Navakeisese. In this village there lived a famous story-teller known as Dredre, who regularly entertained the members of the tribe with his stories. It was customary for the people of the village to bring gifts to Dredre in appreciation of his entertainment.
On one occasion when asked what gifts he would like, he requested each person of the audience to bring him the first things they would find while hunting the next day.
One of the warriors of Beqa called Tui-na-Iviqalita, went fishing for eels (rewai) in a mountain stream. The first thing he caught, felt like an eel, when he pulled it out of the mud, it assumed the shape of a Spirit God.
Tui was extremely pleased and set off to present his catch to Dredre, the story-teller. The Spirit God, however, pleaded for his life and offered all manner of gifts in exchange. These Tui refused until finally, the Spirit God offered to give him power over fire and this offer aroused his curiosity.
To prove his gift, a pit was dug and lined with stones, and a great fire was lit on the stones. When the stones were white with heat, the Spirit God leapt down on the stones and called Tui to jump in with him. Finally, he plucked up enough courage and was surprised that he did not feel any effect from the heat. The Spirit God then told him that he could be buried for four days in the oven without suffering any injury. However, Tui was afraid to do so, saying that he was quite satisfied to walk on the stones.
To this day members of the Sawau tribes are able to walk on white hot stones and direct descendants of Tui-na-Iviqalita still act as Bete, or high priest, of the firewalkers of Fiji. 


Banner: Dakuwaqa

One of the best known gods in Fijian legends is the fierce sea-monster Dakuwaqa. He was the guardian of the reef entrance of the islands, fearless, headstrong and jealous. He frequently changed himself into the form of a shark and travelled around the islands fighting all the other reef guardians.
One day he set out for the Lomaiviti group and after emerging victorious from this area he decided to set out for Suva. The guardian of the reef here challenged Dakuwaqa and a great struggle took place. There was such a disturbance that great waves went rolling into the mouth of the Rewa River causing valleys to be flooded for many miles inland.
Dakuwaqa once more emerged as victor and proceeded on his way. Near the island of Beqa his old friend Masilaca, another shark god, told him of the great strength of the gods guarding Kadavu island and slyly asked Dakuwaqa whether he would be afraid to meet them. Like a shot Dakuwaqa sped off towards Kadavu and, on nearing the reef, found a giant octopus guarding the passage. The octopus had four of its tentacles securely gripping the coral and the other four were held aloft. Rushing furiously in, Dakuwaqa soon found that he was being almost squeezed to death as the octopus had coiled its tentacles around him. Realising his danger Dakuwaqa begged for mercy and told the octopus that if his life was spared he would never harm any people from Kadavu wherever they may be in any part of Fiji waters.
So the octopus released him and Dakuwaqa kept his promise, and the people of Kadavu have no fear of sharks when out fishing or swimming.
Even today when local fishermen go out for a night's fishing they reverently pour a bowl of yaqona into the sea for Dakuwaqa.
The high chiefs of Cakaudrove are considered the direct descendants of Dakuwaqa and their totem shark will appear to the reigning chief on occasions when momentous news is about to the announced.



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