1st NIGHT OF CELEBRATORY COMPETITION – FAANUI
After days of persistent rain the sudden glorious sunset over the shimmering waters directly across to Faanui Temple augured well for the Taurua Varua night that lay ahead.
All roads led to the Temple; on every pathway strolling towards the Temple, Tahitians dressed in colourful traditional mumus (long Tahitain dress), their men in shirts with equally colourful Tahitian motifs & all adorned in simply magnificent tiare Tahiti shoulder leis & floral head leis to match. Some carried simply their parahiraa – a small hand-made wooden seat on which the singers of himene. The singing tonight would be uniquely beautiful voices with not a musical instrument in sight, for tonight would mark the start of the Taurua Varua, a celebratory competition of himene & orero unique to Bora Bora & running for 3 consecutive Sunday nights – right through to 6am on Monday!
I can only start this report re-quoting Henri Lebeau’s reflection on the himene in 1911:
“Words have never succeeded in conveying the impression made by this music. Some have said that it was like an ocean wave coming in with growing strength as the voices increased in intensity, breaking and rolling and bounding and then the dying down and disappearing in a long, sustained note. The women’s voices carried the melody while the men provided a deep, rhythmic counterpoint, one of them with a great voice sometimes throwing out cries and appeals. All the people rocked back and forth as they sang, many with their eyes shut, entirely lost in the music.”
After delving into the history of this fascinating celebration in my report last year (see below) I’ll cover the 3 nights for this year with a photographic report for each of the 3 gatherings with a final overall coverage following the last night of competition.
FIRST DAY OF COMPETITION – Faanui Temple, 10 January, 2016.
Participants gather before the judges, loosening their vocal cords in songs of joy whilst awaiting the start of the festivities. There were over 500 singers representing 6 distinct district groups:
A magnificent display reflecting the abundance of nature fronted the judges’ panel:
Some of those present who gave their upmost on the evening:
The future is in good hands:
From the Official Stand, the Pastor of Faanui & Anau:
I found the himene to be of great quality & appreciated the 3 Aitos (oreros). I am greatly looking forward to the ensuing competition ………………… see you there!
2nd NIGHT OF CELEBRATORY COMPETITION – ANAU
Tonight we would gather in the annex to the Protestant Temple at Anau, a district of Bora Bora made famous for, amongst other things, being the birthplace of Tarita Teriipaia who played opposite Marlon Brando in “Mutiny On The Bounty” before she in turn married the famous actor & together they had 2 children.
Tonight’s celebrations would start just after 5pm & end at 6am the following morning! A traditional dinner accompanied by Ori Tahiti – the famous Tahitian tamure (dance) – for over 400 in the annex stunningly decorated with plaited niau (coconut leaves) & adorned in tropical flowers of every description & colour – there is no limit to the imagination & creativity of the Polynesians.
Shortly thereafter participants would gather in the large hall alongside the Temple – itself another marvel of Polynesian decoration with the walls adorned with magnificent hand-made tifaifai (Tahitian quilt) & an impressive array of hand-made hats fashioned from local foliage. The judges & dignitaries would assemble here before the himenes (local Tahitian chants) would start. I was struck by the fact that this was a tradition that has endured for hundreds of years.
Let the photos take you there:
The setting in Anau:
The judge’s bench fronted by a magnificent display of local produce – a symbol of abundance, of fertility, of continuity:
Participants gather for a light-hearted introduction to the Taurua Varua evening overseen by the head judge:
Let the celebrations commence – a selection of images from the evening……
You could feel Anau’s pride in stagging tonight’s Taurua Varua celebrations & it was justly rewarded by a greater number of participants putting great joy as well as polish into tonight’s presentations. A night of great quality rounded off by two Aitos (oreros).
Although I eagerly awaited the final night & the announcement of this year’s winners on the following Sunday in Vaitape/Nunue, I regretably agitated an old sciatic problem whist gardening on Saturday & was immobile for Sunday’s final – BOO!!! I was probably not missed as none other than the President of French Polynesia flew in specifically to witness the final of this unique event.
And the winners are……….Ierutalema – those in the black & white patterned attire with yellow leis won (& justifiably so).
Well worth catching the event next year if you are in Bora Bora one January.