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samedi 23 mars 2013

A Sunday in Tahiti



Sunday sweet delights of Polynesian paradise

In Polynesia, on Sunday, temples and churches are filled up with a colorful crowd. For this day is devoted to the cult and the simple pleasures of the family.


The day rises in the market
               The first glimmerings of the day slowly dilute the stigma of the night. Provocative dresses, rhinestones, sequins and intemperate make up gradually give way to missionary dresses, colored pareos, dark suits and hats of all kinds.

The first lights of dawn and already the crowd at Papeete market
We are on Sunday, it's four in the morning and the market of Papeete has just opened its doors.

In Papeete, Sunday begins at the market
             The blazing colors of the gardeners’ market stalls quarrel the glances with those of the fishmongers. The carambolas and coursops make eyes to the jackfishs and other mahi mahi while farther, the butchers’stalls compete barges with Polynesian or Chinese caterers.

           At the other end of the building, the frenzied mixture of smells and colors of many florists makes us feel dizzy. Drunkenness almost so glowing than that offers us an unbridled ukulele very kaina Quartet. Entering this part of the market, it’s a bit like back in time. Dressed in cleverly knotted pareo, crowned head by tiare or hibiscus flowers, bright smiled opulent mama are dancing and singing among this senseless firework of flowers.

Fabulous stalls of fruits of Polynesian markets
           Beside this garden of delights, these are the artisans of all sorts who present their work: full of inevitable as improbable black beads of Tuamotu studded shell jewelry alongside Marquesas Islands sculptures, marvelous hats and another wickerwork baskets of Southern islands multicolored hand painted pareo … Nobody knows where to have a look on this  incredible mess…

Loaded with food, flowers and gifts arms, in Sunday best the crowd is gathering: today, the market closes at eight a.m. so that everybody, barge and merchant, has the time to prepare to go to mass that no one could miss. The feast will come thereafter…

The fervor of the faith…
In French Polynesia, religion (whatever) used to play a fundamental role. Sunday worship is an event which imposes feast outfit. There‘s no doubt that the Paofai temple, on the waterfront, is the ideal place to attend a great beauty sung holy office.

The temple Paofai in Papeete
Quietly installed at the rostrum, one overlooks a crowded nave. At left, grey or black costumed bare headed men. At right, white or flowered women's dresses, with their sumptuous decorated hats … Pastors and deacons officiate mainly in Tahitian language, but never mind: the fervor is palpable and many songs sublime. And even if one can regret the presence of an electric piano and an amplified rhythms box, voices as melodies, Polynesian until the slightest note, make vibrate the air as hearts.

…and the gentle way of life!
After the ceremony, and once each other sacrificed to the social whirl long ritual, each family is now moving towards instead of Sunday Agape. Most of foodstuff has been prepared the previous day or bought ready from market in this morning. The Sunday tamara will occupy all the day long, either in family or with friends, at home or on the lagoon, or even on a familial motu… Eating, laughing, singing, dancing… It is perhaps in these delighted Sunday that the Polynesian people shows best their true face. At no time, the enormous work that requires the property be of such an Assembly is visible ; only the joy of life and happiness to be together are  established and have a legitimate place.

And the incredible hats of singing mama!
        I have to grant it between you and me: It‘s by living for the first time such a day that I found the Polynesian paradise. It resides neither in beaches nor in lagoons: they are the people who make wonderful this country.

Glossary:
mahi mahi: coryphene sea bream
kaina: local and popular
Mama: term affectionate for families’ mothers
tamara: big holiday meals
motu: coral islet on the barrier reef.
Keywords: Tahiti, Polynesia, Papeete, market, hats, flowers, Church, temple, pastor, worship, Sunday


An article of Julien Gué
Translated from French by Vanaa Teriitehau


Copyright Julien Gué. Ask for the author’s agreement before any reproduction of the text or the images on Internet or traditional press.



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