Fire walking, an incredible experience to live in French Polynesia!

Fire walking, an incredible experience to live in French Polynesia!

Each year in July, the high priest Raymond Teriierooiterai Graffe makes revived this impressive ancestral ceremony. Tahiti Cruise and Vacation tells you more about this rite practiced since the dawn of time in French Polynesia.


Its origins
Every year, the fire walking or umu ti, opens the Heiva festivities. A ceremony which gets together several hundred spectators captivated by this show! This tradition allowed, initially, to cook food to avoid famine during the dry season called Matari’i i raro from May to November. Roots of Ti (Cordilyne) were baked in an oven and served to replace the bread fruit, dasheen and to substitute sugar during scarcity.
The fire walking took place before the baking of roots to check the presence of the gods. If priests managed to walk on hot stones without risking to burn themselves, this meant that Ti would be cooked properly.

Before the ceremony, the high priest follows a ritual preparation and the date is set according to the Polynesian lunar calendar. On that day,  the oven is on at 6:00 am for the stones are at the right temperature at 6:00 pm. At the end of the oven, the temperature is close to 8 132° Fahrenheit, but decrease to 2 372° Fahrenheit under the last stone. On the walking slab, the temperature varies from 1 184° and  to 2 192° Fahrenheit.

Fire walking
Fire walking

The fire walking always begins with an incantatory dance, then, the high priest walks on the stones by sweeping with sacred TI leaves. Spectators are afterwards invited to cross the blaze to purify their bodies and souls. This experience is not dangerous, you just need to follow some rules: you do not have to drink alcohol for the previous day, women having their monthly bleeding can assist to the ceremony, but they should not cross the oven and you do not return once we started walking on the furnace.

If you want to live this amazing experience, discover French Polynesia, its wonderful landscapes and its ancestral traditions, do not hesitate and contact the Moana Voyages team now!

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