Fijian Culture

Greetings

  • A handshake is the normal greeting between people. Indigenous Fijians tend to shake up and down once and then hold the person’s hand for a prolonged time while they exchange pleasantries.
  • People may not shake hands with those who are of a different status to them (in age, gender or social status) and will instead give a respectful nod accompanied by a verbal greeting.
  • Fijian women tend to greet each other by hugging and giving a light kiss (a sniff) to each other’s cheek. This is usually an air kiss and does not always make physical contact. To greet those women that they deeply admire or respect, they may put their nose to the other person’s cheek and hold it there for a moment while they breathe in.
  • Expect a Fijian woman to greet a man verbally and wait for him to extend his hand before offering hers.
  • Indo-Fijians tend not to shake hands with strangers unless they live in the urban areas. Those in rural areas prefer to greet by pressing the palms of their hands together in front of their chest and say “Namaste” (“I greet the god within you”), usually accompanied with a slight bow.
  • During introductions, expect to be asked many questions about your personal life and status as a Fijian gets to know you. These may sound overt, for example, “Do you have a wife?”.
  • In Fiji, people usually greet those they know as they pass them casually with a wave and the verbal greeting of “Bula”.
  • Chiefs or Fijians that have a high status may have the title “Ratu” for men or “Adi” for women. Address them using the title followed by their first name.
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