01 March, 2006

Navala - A place to visit

This article talks about one of our villages in the Ba province that has maintained the past with all houses in the village built in the traditional Fijian bure style. "Navala" can be visited by tourists who are staying in Suva as part of their Fiji experience. Navala is nestled between lush green vegetation high in the mountains. It is about 25 km from Ba town or 45 minutes drive up winding roads by van, truck or four-wheel-drive. Navala is unique. It is the only village in Fiji where all houses are thatched. They retained the setting of a Fijian village, how Fijians built their house and the layout. The village's forefathers started the tradition and the present day villagers have kept it. There is a legend to it. It says villagers' ancestors predicted if they continued to build their houses their way, money would flow through the homes and that there would be so much money that people would run away from it. The forefathers also said that their village would become famous. Seen from the air, the houses form a cross. It is a reminder of when Navala accepted Christianity back in the 1800s. The cross format was the idea of a son of Navala who was the first get formal education. Navala is predominantly Catholic. Navala is a national heritage. As mentioned above, it is full of history and legends. One of these is about the caves overlooking the village. The caves, halfway up a steep mountain, were a refuge during tribal wars in the dark ages of Fiji's history. The caves are near the old village. It was whether the women and children hid while their men guarded outside. The caves are in a strategic position that makes anyone approaching the village clearly seen. When the village was moved to its present location, the caves became empty and became taboo ground. The only time the villages would go up the mountains was to take tourists to a big waterfall. Navala is full of ancient artifacts which were kept by the villagers down the line from their ancestors. These relics would be displayed to tourists. Among the artifacts is an old musket, two spears, a fly swish and a small club. June to December is the time to plant, host visitors and fulfill their obligations. Navala was the first village in Ba to showcase community tourism.

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