In the past Balladeer’s Blog has examined the gods and myths of Polynesian people in Hawaii, Samoa, Bellona and Rennell. This time around I’m taking a look at the neglected gods of the Melanesian people of Fiji.
NOTE: I am spelling the names of the deities phonetically to make it easier for readers to know how to pronounce them. I’m doing this to avoid the awkwardness of having to remember the odd rules regarding how to pronounce certain consonants.
For instance “Q” is pronounced “ng-g” so with the name of the shark god, spelled Dakuwanqa in that system, I will spell it Ndakuwang-ga so readers don’t have to remember how Q is supposed to be pronounced or that “D” is pronounced “nd”. After all, the Fijians certainly were not using our alphabet prior to contact with Europeans, so I think it’s inefficient to expect readers to remember odd pronunciation rules for letters that the Fijians never used to begin with.
KONOSAU – The god of stillborn infants. Originally born dead to the first Bau woman taken to Rewa, this entity became the patron deity of such offspring. His main temple is called Nai Bili.
NAITONU – The god of nudity. I’m not joking. Naitonu hates the custom of wearing clothing and not only is he constantly naked but he expects nudity from everyone entering his territory – even if they are just passing through. Failure to comply will result in the offender being struck with leprosy.
ALEWANISOSO – The patron goddess of travelers and hospitality. Regardless of their tribe, fellow Fijians who reach one of Alewanisoso’s temples can be assured of not being harmed during their stay – usually an overnight one.
Hostility or rudeness of any kind is taboo in her temples and everyone entering is expected to conduct themselves as gently and courteously as they would when wooing a mate.
ROKOMAUTU – A son of the supreme deity Ndengei by his sister. This deity was born from his mother’s elbow as another example of birthing oddities in world mythology. Rokomautu was so headstrong he tried to force even his own parents to worship him.
Rokomautu falls into the mythological category that Balladeer’s Blog’s readers will remember as a Divine Geographer. When Ndengei first created the world the land was featureless, so he sent his son Rokomautu to provide character. The god sculpted the Earth’s various geographic features.
The sandy beaches of Fiji were created by Rokomautu dragging his flowing robe over the terrain. When the god pulled up his robe while walking the land became rocky or filled with mangrove bushes. By some accounts anywhere that he spat a lake or river would form.
Once during a drought in which many were dying, Rokomautu was passing through and used his hair-pin, or milamila, to puncture a hole in a rock from which drinking water then flowed.
SOBO – The goddess of soft breezes on the Fijian island of Thikombia. Her husband Rasikilau, the patron deity of that island, killed their two sons once it became apparent that their strength might rival his some day if he allowed them to live. Continue reading