Coffee Jitters and Traditional Kava Ceremonies

Posted by on Aug 11, 2008 in The Mind of Makaira | 0 comments

Coffee Jitters and Traditional Kava CeremoniesAloha!

So, this morning I woke up and had one too many cups of coffee. Oh, how I love my morning coffee! Usually I only have one cup, but occasionally I will have more than one.

I admit that this morning I savored a total of three cups of coffee and within half an hour I felt jittery and on edge. It’s been awhile since I got the coffee jitters…maybe I need to switch to decaffeinated coffee in my old age!

This reaction in me doesn’t always occur when I pour myself a second or third cup. Often times when I do, I feel fine – invigorated even. Yet today I felt very irritable, and when I found myself snapping unnecessarily at my son, Kahoku, I decided to take some of our kava concentrate. If you haven’t tried it, YOU MUST! Trust me!

Our kava concentrate is made with our coveted root-only powdered kavalactone extract, unprocessed organic cocoa beans, stevia and soy protein. I like to take a small spreader knife – it’s much like the consistency of cookie dough – and scoop out two hefty, pea-sized balls and eat it straight out of the jar. You can also add it to make great drinks, shakes and smoothies. I think the banana-chocolate flavor concentrate works especially well mixed with our instant cocoa flavored kava drink mix and coconut or soy milk. Yum! I’m also thinking about how delicious kava coffee flavored concentrate would be, but I’m not sure if the effect would be pleasant…

Anyway, when I took these two balls of kava concentrate, they almost immediately took away the coffee edge I felt only moments before. I love the relaxing properties of kava and cannot imagine my life without it. While I was busy drinking too much coffee, I was quick compiling some kava news I read over the weekend.

First, take a look at this wonderful photo series on the King of Tonga’s Coronation from the BBC:

BBC News – Tonga Coronation in Pictures

Then there were interesting accounts from reporters the world over, including one from the Fiji Daily Post, on the King’s kava ceremony, his procession, as well as the traditional mats that are worn throughout his Coronation:

“King George was preceded by the spear wielding Tui Soso, a chief from the Fiji’s traditional Tovata Confederacy.

It was Tui Soso’s task to drive away any evil spirits that might have entered the ceremonial area. As a foreigner, Tui Soso could walk in front of the King; a Tongan could not do this.

The role of the Tui Soso, Sailosi Waqaciri, in the traditional installation of the Tui Kanokupolu was reserved alone for his bloodline. No one walks before the king but the Tui Soso, in his role as protector during the installation ceremony. The origin of the custom was that when the craft, Hifofua, arrived in the time of Tui Kanokupolu Mataeletu’apika, the Tui Soso was present and Mataeletu’apika gave one of his sons, Tu’ivakanoa, to Tui Soso. The kava ceremony expresses and emphasizes the connections of the Tui Tonga title with Samoa and Fiji.

The spear wielded by the Tui Soso came through three coronations and had been kept at Nukunuku, a Tongan village in Tongatapu named after the Tui Soso’s home.

On installation day, the sight of a war-painted Fijian dancing around menacingly with his ancient spear through the heart of town, shocked most Tongans.

Not all of them knew about the historical links between the people of Nukunuku in Fiji and the royal family. The guards at the palace gates were stunned by the unknown dark-skinned man prancing about before their king and forgot to open the iron gates.

The procession had to stop and the king watched as his guards from the Tongan Defense Force picked a huge rock to break the chain and let them through.

Mr Waqaciri, who arrived in Nukunuku two weeks before the ceremony, was viewed by millions of television viewers across the world as he did what his forefathers had done, the last time in 1967. When the sun set that day, after King George drank his bowl of kava prepared in an elaborate ceremony by the tribe of kingmakers, Haa’ngata, all Tongans knew who the Tui Soso was and what he means to their king.

King George made his way to an open-sided pavilion, where he sat on layers of prized fine mats woven from the pandanus plant.

These were topped by two one-hundred yard lengths of folded mulberry bark tapa cloth, made by his mother Queen Mata’aho and members of her family.

His back was in contact with a framed sliver from the trunk of a koka tree, also known as bishop wood or java cedar.

This was a link to more turbulent and treacherous times. By tradition the koka acted as a form of security for the dynastic rulers of Tonga during their ceremonies of installation.

They kept their backs against the broad trunk of the tree for protection against any enemy creeping up from behind intent on assassination.

The koka is still regarded as an essential element of a taumafa kava. It has such significance, that traditionalists assert there is no installation unless the King’s person is touching the wood of the tree during the ceremony.

Bound around His Majesty with coconut fibre cord were two extremely old and precious royal waist mats, or ‘aofivala. These are highly valued in Tongan society as symbols of culture and respect. Some are reportedly up to 500 years old. Those worn by the King are heirlooms of the royal household, examples of the so-called ‘mats of power’ said to possess the mana and mystique of those who have been adorned with them previously.

The choice of mats for the King was made an hour before the ceremony by his mother Queen Mata’aho and her maternal cousins. Moved by the spirit of the moment they decided His Majesty would wear a mat called ‘Lalanga ‘a ‘Ulukilupetea’ (Woven by ‘Ulukilupetea).

This was owned by Tupou First’s paternal grandmother. It was usually worn by Queen Salote for the opening and closing of Parliament.

Their other selection was the mat named ‘Lauao ‘o Kanokupolu’ (Foundation of Kanokupolu). His Majesty is the current holder of the pre-eminent Tu’I Kanokupolu title.

The mat belonged to Tupou First’s father, Tupouto’a.

The pinnacle of the morning’s ritual came when pounded kava root was mixed with water.

It was strained through hibiscus bark fibre into large carved wooden bowls or tanoa.

This process followed prescribed ritual, featuring stylized, synchronized movements of the head and hands by the preparers of the kava. When the mixing was complete, the first serving of the beige colored liquid – contained in a coconut shell drinking vessel – was delivered to His Majesty.

Before the cup was presented to the King, to be consumed in a single motion, the words of the talking chief Motu’apuaka rang out. He declared that from that moment His Majesty became King of Tonga. The country was his, along with the duties he now accepted.

At this moment there were loud cries of acclamation and joyful applause from spectators.

The ceremony continued, with each person in the circle receiving a bowl of kava as their names were called out.”

Now I have to run out – I will be back later with more kava news!

Aloha no!

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