The Traditional Marriage Ceremony concluded, wedding guests would move to witness the opening of the hima’a – a traditional Tahitian in-ground oven.
Agricultural pursuits on Bora Bora are minimal & to assemble both the range & the quality of the produce required for such a large event necessitated that those responsible for the Ma’a Tahiti would travel to & fro Tahaa by boat to obtain all that was required – the farmers had been engaged to produce what was required some months before.
The hima’a operates essentially as an underground steam oven. A pit in the ground, a little over 1.5m deep, is dug to reflect the size of the meal to be prepared then filled with large amounts of dry wooden material for firing & covered with pourous volcanic basalt stones, which hold heat excellently, before being fired. Firing will take 1.5 to 2 hours until the stones are at their maximum heat. Once at their maximum heat they are levelled by a tree branch to an even surface over the remaining coals:
Green plant material is then added having been selected to avoid scorching of the food:
More green matter is added, essentially to produce steam but also selected so as to add flavour as preferred. Coconut fronds & the leaves of the purau, a local hibiscus are favourites. Hessian sacks & then dirt, or in this case tarpaulins, are then used to seal in the steam:
So, to get to this stage all the food has had to be specially prepared & wrapped, the stones heated for some 2 hours & the oven ‘stacked’ then left to cook for 4 hours (6 hours or more are required for a whole pig!) It’s a very labourious, time-consuming procedure & one where a high level of expertise is required.
Yummy – the freshly cooked ingredients are prepared for the feast. A detailed account of dishes prepared in an ahima’a for Ma’a Tahiti can be found in the following report: Tahitian Dining. It’s interesting to see how coconut fronds are plaited into different shapes – baskets in which to cook, bowls for serving & as plates from which to eat:
Here poe is being prepared, a sweet confection eaten to complement the main course or taken as dessert:
If there was one plate missing it was surely the fafaru, a delicacy much loved by the Tahitians & made from fermented fish with an odour to match!
Back to what its all about in Tahiti:
Lunch would start as tradition holds with a prayer:
The fermented coconut milk pictured above ‘makes’ the meal. One can see clearly in the photos the use of plates & bowls made from coconut fronds. Tahitians normally eat Ma’a Tahiti with the fingers.
A local band played……………….
……………. before the sound of the pahu (large Tahitian bass drum) announced the arrival on scene of dancers – most Tahitian men play various instruments & love to sing; all Tahitian girls can dance the tamure:
An aparima – danced by woman especially for those married as it expresses the deepest sentiments of love. Note how the men dancers spend their ‘break’ playing guitar & singing away:
As tradition has it, an invitation to dance follows. Some images of the invitation to dance – always a highlight of any such gathering:
Here’s the full clip of Alby – participation to the MAX! Sensational!!!
A moment would follow that would leave the crowd present lost for words ………. then clambering for more.
The bride & groom appeared unrecognised by those present, disguised as just 2 further dancers in the group. The traditional ‘first dance’ at the wedding would be the tamure – what a sensation it would be, what a total knock-out!
The groom beckons his bride to dance:
She accepts the invitation:
Ah yes ……………… the following sequence, a sequence as only Dan & Moana would have it:
A well deserved moment to cool off, to take it all in, to celebrate:
All & sundry, to a man, were mesmorised, bursting with excitement & exhausted all at once. It was no moment to stick with tradition, to follow a schedule; the wedding broke for a moment’s rest from the tempo in the warm waters of Bora. Strength would be regained over basketball before the speeches & throwing of the bouquet would take centre stage.
The most memorable of marriages it was! UNBELIEVABLY, it didn’t end there …………. given potential electricity issues on the motu it had been decided months in advance to continue the wedding on the white sands of Matira, to continue it with a traditional fire-dance at water’s edge.
Fire-dancing has its roots in Polynesia – started by them centuries ago, using war clubs, as a means for warriors to show their fighting prowess. The fire-dance forms an integral part of a Traditional Tahitian Wedding symbolising the giving of ‘light’ to the newly-weds. The ceremony was SPECTACULR – how good are the following shots taken by New York based photographer, Ian Brewer:
More great shots from Mal Lyons – www.lyonsimagery.com. Good images of fire-dancing are hard to take – check out how the flame lingers on the tongue of the guy in the third shot!
A great DJ ensured wedding guests danced their way right through the night on the extensive, coconut fringed, golf-course green lawns of Hotel Matira & on the white sands of Matira Beach as they dipped into the world’s most beautiful lagoon.
What a fabulous setting; what a FABULOUS wedding!