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Breaking the Ramadan fast in Fiji

Posted by Patricia Borns  May 9, 2011 07:27 AM

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ramadan in fiji - praying.jpg On the way to the airport in Nausori, a market town on Fiji's main island of Viti Levu, my Indo-Fijian cab driver David pointed to the beautifully dressed women walking on the road shoulder. "It's the last day of Ramadan. They're going to prayers," he said.

Fiji has a large immigrant Indian population dating to the late 1800s when Indian indentureds came to work the sugarcane fields. Now as then, most are Hindi, but a small number of Indo-Fijians are Muslims. Boats on the Nausori.jpgTheir tiny mosques dot the road running parallel with the Nausori River, pot of pilau.jpgDavid pointed out the flowers that are ritually floated on the water, and smoke rising from wood fires where women were preparing pilau for the meal that ends the month-long Ramadan fast. We stopped for a photo, and were invited to return for the feast.breaking the fast.jpg
ramadan dessert.jpg
In 2003 when I last visited Fiji, the contempt of native Fijians for those of Indian ancestry was palpable. At Nadi airport, a policeman had blocked an Indo-Fijian driver from approaching me so that a native cabbie could get the fare. Happily, relationships have softened. In Suva, the capitol city, a friendly officer wearing a sulu (traditional Fijian wrap like a skirt) led me from shop to shop looking for an appropriate contribution to the Ramadan meal. His best tip: Govinda's Vegetarian Restaurant with a display case full of beautifully crafted Indian sweets (93 Cummings St.).

The Fijians' smiling welcome is a trademark of tourism websites, but in an off-the-radar moment, the welcome I received from Indo-Fijians was as genuine and warm. If you're staying on Viti Levu, be sure to explore Nausori. Arrive on Saturday if possible to catch farmers arriving by river boat and the market at its best: humming with vendors selling mud crabs, taro and coconuts. Suva will reward a full day or two of your time. For beaches, head to the less developed north coast around Raki Raki where the snorkeling is excellent and dive operators will take you to Bligh Water.


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