When mourning, people are encouraged to still appear in public. Traditional Tongan funerals are beautiful to witness, but they are expensive and many traditions must be upheld. Hello. Those who are not related at all should wear fine mats that are fakaʻahu, or smoked over a fire until they are a rich mahogany color. This is irrespective whether a taʻovala is worn or not. Change ), You are commenting using your Twitter account. I’m interested in the references that you use. ( Log Out / The household of the deceased is supposed to provide a meal, or meals if it takes long, to all mourners. Click here to see some quilt examples. The period of mourning, and thus the obligation to wear black, differs depending on how closely related a mourner is to the deceased. These are the relatives who do the hard, dirty work of preparing the ʻumu at the funeral. After that all leave, although the closest relatives may stay at the grave for the next 10 days. In case of an important chief for 10 days after the interment relatives and friends of the deceased bring food from the ʻumu to its closest family members. For example, sisters have the privilege of naming the first-born child of their brother’s children (Lee, 2003). Tongan funerals are usually open caskets so the mourners can say there last goodbye. Some are very huge ones for close relatives. The type of mat worn, referred to as ta’ovala, indicates how one is related to the deceased. It is headed by Lauaki, who serves as he is the royal undertaker, and only his men, known as the nima tapu ("sacred hands") may touch the dead king's remains. Everyone gathers at the church for the funeral service, including community members who didn’t know the deceased very well. That many people were missing their pinks was directly noted by Abel Tasman in 1643. The end of the mourning, 100 days later, is marked by the lanu kilikili (washing of the stones), when little black stones (volcanic stones, collected from islands like Tofua) are rubbed with sweet smelling oil are laid out over the grave. Meanwhile, men and boys of the family have dug a grave, and the coffin is lowered in there. Some people also may wear torn mats to express their grief. I’ve never been to a Tongan funeral, but I’ve heard from many other PCVs who have. Please help her! There are many parts that differ from American funerals, but one particularly stands out. They also may leave food, drinks, and flowers by the gravesite. Change ), How Elderly Tongan Women Embrace Aging and Death. Relatives on the "sister's side" wear fine mats, often family heirloom mats. Someone wearing a colorful, finely woven mat to a funeral suggests they have high status. For an acquaintance it may be a few days; for a distant relation it may be a few weeks whilst for close relatives the mourning period may last for up to a year. (Furthermore, Mele and her family aren’t able to work, besides cooking, for a month.) Appearing in public during this period a taʻovala (mat tied around the waist) is much recommended, and it should be during that time a mourning taʻovala. firstname.lastname@example.org. In the later days of the mourning period the fakaaveave can be worn alone without the bulky taʻovala. After that all parade to that cemetery where the family has a piece of ground. Typically mourners bring small funeral gifts for the grieving family, such as woven mats, food, or money. ( Log Out / 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. Even though my aunts wailing about her grandson’s death was not funny during her act, afterwards, all the mourners were laughing at her wailing antics. Closer family will bring huge ngatu and other traditional gifts, and are supposed to stay for the ʻapō (night vigil). Being raised in the Tongan culture is a blessing, yet a curse. Nowadays the grave is usually sealed with concrete. This tenth day is known as the pongipongi tapu (sacred morning) and features a taumafa kava (royal kava ceremony), which is a good time to bestow the chiefly title (if any) of the deceased onto his heir. This is called the haʻamo (Compare with: Haʻamonga ʻa Maui). Hi The “white material” is a long piece of material that is draped over the top & bottom half of the casket. See why thousands of funeral homes choose Frazer-powered websites! The mats represent their respect and love for the deceased. During the mourning period, mourners wear black clothing. Not only does my aunt outrank my father, but her children outrank all of the brother’s children; where my first cousins on my father’s side can tell me their wants and needs, and I have to abide their wishes (Lee, 2003). Gift exchange, feeding the mourners, and décor are the most expensive matters at a traditional Tongan funeral (Evans, 2001). Other parts of the series are about Ugandan funeral traditions and Croatian funeral traditions, among others. The event should take place this Friday, September 29, marking the first 10 nights following the burial of the late king. Not only do they bring those who are grieving... Sign up for our newsletter and get tips, trends, news, and more sent directly to your inbox! Apologies for the late reply. by Jenny Goldade | Jul 6, 2018 | Cultural Spotlight, For Families. The influence of Christianity on Anga Faka Tonga (Tongan culture) is seen in the black clothing worn by mourners during the mourning period. Gift exchange is a form of generalized reciprocity where family, friends, neighbors, and fellow church members exchange goods of traditional mats, food, or money according to Evans (2001). Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Most people wear traditional funeral attire, including a woven mat. Here in America and in most of Canada, we have funeral traditions that have stood the test of time for decades, even centuries. Funerals in Tonga, despite the large Christian influence they have undergone over the last 150 years or so, are still very much a traditional affair and an important part of the culture of Tonga, especially if it concerns the death of a member of the royal family or a high chief. I need to help my wife prepare for three funerals and we cannot find it anywhere. A brass-band may lead the procession. Even as late as 1865 when Tēvita ʻUnga, king George Tupou I's son, the crown prince, was described as "minus 2 fingers, cut off as a tribute to some deceased relatives" (as well as having lost one eye).. Tongan Funeral Service. Everyone gathers at the church for the funeral service, including community members who didn’t know the deceased very well. My father’s sister named me after her mother, which is my grandmother. The mourner can wail about a variety of things from how much the deceased will be missed, or wail about the deceased dying because the person ate too much. Close relatives who are "inferior", in kinship terms, or "brother's" side, wear old, coarse, torn mats, sometimes even old floor mats. In case of an important chief for 10 days after the interment relatives and friends of the deceased bring food from the ʻumu to its closest family members. Can you please show a list of references that I can go to for further reading. In Tonga, the monarch is still considered so sacred that no one may touch him. Change ), You are commenting using your Facebook account. Tongan funerals can also be extremely expensive, and cost can easily start at 10k. For those in uniform a black armband is allowed instead. Tongan funerals are also times of great respect and love. There are endless amounts of flower sprays, flower bouquets, and the open casket is always covered by a special white material that can cost $10-$50 per yard. The burial itself starts with a church service, the number of reverends/priests, the number of their sermons and therefore the duration of the service is proportional to the rank of the corpse. Most people wear traditional funeral attire, including a woven mat. For example, my aunt passed away last weekend and her funeral was beautiful; there were endless amounts of flowers, and flower leis flown in from Hawaii, the funeral home was decorated extravagantly with traditional Tongan mats, and she was laid to rest by a carriage ride to her gravesite. Here in America and in most of Canada, we have funeral traditions that have stood the test of time for decades, even centuries. Sorry for your loss. What kind of mat is worn depends on the relationship to the deceased. Tongan funerals are without a doubt a period of mourning, yet there is a sarcastic undertone around the deceased and the mourners. Usually a big tent (some companies are specialised in hiring out such tents) is erected in the garden, and there the people sit the whole night singing religious songs. Thankfully my father is still alive and has not passed away, but when he does, my aunt or her children have the right to cut my hair as a sign of respect to her and to my father. Tongan customs have many values and traditions that each family must uphold, and if that family does not maintain their responsibilities, they are frowned upon by the Tongan community (Lee, 2003; Lee, 1996). Change ), You are commenting using your Google account. The priest also may do a graveside funeral service, and the men in the family dig the grave. During the initial mourning period the mourners (especially the women) are not supposed to do their hair, but let it hang loose unattended. Since most Tongan people are Christian, a Tongan funeral is a mixture of Christian and cultural customs. As soon as the death has occurred all family members will be notified, nowadays often by a radio message and they are supposed to come to the putu (funeral rites), no excuses. I have been to many Tongan funerals and the décor of every funeral I have been to is extravagant. What a great experience! Sign up for our weekly newsletter for tips, trends, news, and more! Decorating the funeral home where the viewing will be held is also another expensive cost. There’s usually an open casket for mourners to say goodbye to the deceased. Over the course mats loose strips of pandanus may be worn, as whether it is a kiekie. To better understand the Tongan culture, there is a hierarchy within the culture where sisters outrank their brothers, and sisters have an authoritative power that brothers must abide by (Evans, 2001; Lee, 1996). And for sure when attending the funeral itself, it is obligatory. Great was the surprise when we wake up early the first morning on Tonga in the Pacific and discovered the graveyard close to where we lived. The current dynasty of kings, the Tuʻi Kanokupolu are buried at Malaʻe Kula. Many thanks. In addition, when it comes to immediate family funerals, an aunt has the privilege or her children, to cut any of her brother’s children hair as a sign of respect to the deceased, especially if the deceased is a grandmother, grandfather, or father figure (Lee, 1996). ( Log Out / Such food is always put in baskets, woven from coconut palm fronds. But our traditions are vastly different from those in other countries and cultures. In the case of the death of a king, everybody is inferior of course, and only the course mats are worn.
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