Friday, September 28, 2012
Putu- lisi's version
First, I must have you know that Lisi was not my first Tongan name....the first was Alisa, or Elisa, or Ilisa or something that I could never quite remember. Every time someone asked me my name I would stumble all over myself. Finally at Putu número UNO, mark told a bunch of people I can't remember my name...so now I'm going with Lisi. :)
One aspect of Tongan culture that I am struggling to get used to regards social interactions-every time a group of people get together, whether it's church, a putu ,or even just eva peing (wandering around) - men and women stay separate.
At the Putu we attended Saturday (from 9-4) there was a big tent for the women and children to sit in, and then a different tent for the men. I have no idea what the men were doing, but we women pretty much sat, stared, laughed at the kids, and stared some more.
After about an hour of sitting and staring, Vaiola took me to the front yard where there was another tent full of women. They all sat facing the front porch where it was clear, some sort of ceremony of sorts was going to happen. I was given a seat on the porch with a handful of other ladies. There were many speeches, a few songs, lots of laughter and lots of tears. The women leading the ceremony was the eldest sister of the man that had passed away. The "chief of the funeral" is always designated to the eldest sister of the father. The sister is in charge of all the funeral arrangements, which is so very interesting. She also has the unique role (and this is the ceremony that I got to witness) of cutting all the women's hair in the family that suffered the loss. I saw twelve people get their hair cut... In tonga, the only culturally appropriate time to cut your hair is when a loved one has died. So yes, long hair is in. This particular auntie was very nice, as she didn't cut anyone's hair too short. I have heard stories of "bad" or disliked nieces getting bad haircuts, but that was not the case Saturday. All in all, a very interesting, very long, very wet (it rained all day) Saturday.
Wondering how aunt robin would cut my hair,