Moonlit night in Samoa

... here's a feel good post to mellow down the politically animated ones of late ....LOL!

A rising full moon is an image that is etched in every Samoan’s thoughts and memories of island life. More importantly is the moon’s association with love and romance, as in many stories and tales of the South Seas.

A po masina (moonlit night) is a night of fun and games in the village malae (square/courtyard). Children play igave’a (hide and seek), togiga nonu (tossing and finding the nonu/noni fruit, the main ingredient of a now popular medicinal drink) or gaga ‘ie (hiding and finding the lavalava wrap around). The young adult boys and girls would sit, chat and often romancing each other. The older ‘aumaga (untitled men) would huddle in a designated spot playing their guitars and ukuleles and singing their favorite and popular love songs.

This musical gathering can also be part of a common ritual among the men called the fa'asausauga. The practice involves the men sitting or walking about with their upper bodies bare and exposed to the sau (cool, soothing nightly breeze) mainly for relief and therapy. The word fa'asausau has therefore come to mean “without a shirt/top” for the men. During the day these men spend most of the time working in their plantations in the mountains or out fishing at sea. At night the fa'asauauga is the process by which their bodies are soothed, healed and rehabilitated by the sau. It’s a natural remedy.  Shirts, t-shirts or singlets are either absent or draped around their backs or shoulders. Most men prefer to observe the fa'asausauga ritual while playing guitars and singing at the malae.

The unamplified yet melodious strains of island harmonies are wafted through the village by the same panacean breeze and in turn become sweet lullabies to the village elders and invalids. The men sing of village life but they mostly sing of love and romance. They sing of the moon (while under the moon) and of how its slow rise over the swaying palm trees and silver lagoon is peak time for romance; time when thoughts and memories of a lover are conjured, felt and overwhelm. For these noble savages a full moon rising is time for rendezvous and trysts - or nostalgia as sentimentalized in this favorite/popular stanza and verse:

Le masina e, ua vaaia i luga o mauga  (As the moon rises over the mountains)
Le tumutumu oe o nai o’u mafaufauga  (That’s when my thoughts turn only to you)
Ua e malaga i nu’u ese  (Though you have traveled to far away lands)
Ae le galo oe la’u pele  (I will always remember you my dear)
Le alofa sa i o ta luga ua ou teuina  (And the love we shared, is one that I now treasure)

When the night's fun is all finished, then everyone leaves spontaneously, just as they came together. This habit is the origin of the popular expression  "O le a le tu'ua faa-evaga a tamaiti i le po masina/ O le a le tu'ua faapo evaga [le tatou mafutaga ae e tatau ona avatu sa matou faafetai]." (We will not depart from this gathering as children do after their moonlit night revelry [so we need to formally express our gratitude ....] ) The expression is often used as an introduction to a more formal speech thanking the hosts for the food, hospitality, kindness, etc., at a wedding, funeral or other social functions.

Faafetai lava mo le fa'asausauga!

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