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Traditional Purposes of kava ceremony
Kava can be found in recreational and social gatherings. It has been used as a social drink for high-ranking chiefs and elders, drank as a form of welcome for honored guests, consumed for preparation and completion of an event or of work, to validate status, observe births, marriages and deaths, to relieve stress, remedy illnesses etc.
In Hawaii, kava is drank during divination ceremonies, naming of children aged one years old, the consecrating of a male child, or initiating of young girls into traditional hula and chanting. In Tikopia, it affirms sacred symbols and can be used as a religious libation and poured onto the ground instead of drunk.
It is drank in kinship and chiefship rituals, for public atonement of misdeeds. Many people were pardoned for their crimes after a kava ceremony.
Sharing a kava bowl allows for socialization and friendship to occur. Fears are allayed and friendships cemented.
On Wallis Island, official decisions are made during the kava ceremony, and enemies are reconciled and goodwill is restored. Those who committed crime are often allowed to go free, thanks to the kava ceremony.
Kava has a key role in social ceremonies. It is usually the only way to welcome honored visitors. Former First Lady Mrs. Johnson drank it as well Pope John Paul II upon their visit to the Pacific.
But drinking kava is not the only way for relationships to be cemented. Sometimes, presenting others with a kava root is a sign of welcome and peace.
Some Important Functions of Kava in Fiji and Tonga
In Fiji, kava allows participants to communicate with the supernatural.
Kava reaffirms hierarchical status of those present by leaving no doubts as to who has certain rights and privileges. This is achieved in a formal kava ceremony through the order of seating, serving in order of rank, a detailed procedure in making the brew, and the formal commands controlling the preparation.