Tonga as a country has always been very religious and very deep into their culture. In Tonga family is everything, along with religion. Tongan religion is mostly Methodist, Christian or Morman. The king and the majority of the royal family are members of the Free Wesleyan Church (Methodist) which claims some 40,000 adherents in the country. Church is a big commitment as it is a way to show respect to their country and how it was founded. The Tongans have devoted their whole day on Sundays to go to church. The harmonised singing and beat of the wooden drums are all familiar sounds to a Tongan on a Sunday. After a session of church has been held, all the members will be asked to go to a hall and celebrate their religion through song and dance. The performers rub baby oil on themselves so that other members of the church can stick money to them to support the family. In Tonga, song and dance is a traditional way to celebrate important events like weddings anniversaries and royal events. There are two main types of dancing, sitting and standing. Both types are performed in a row facing the audience. Traditionally men and women had different dances but today mixed performances are common. Women have greater social prestige than men, so a man's sister will outrank him socially even if he is the older sibling. Until recently it was taboo for an adult male and his sister to be in a room together. The recent introduction of television is changing this taboo, however. While these performances are happening the higher ranked men of the church sit on the stage and drink Kava (traditional drink of Tonga). Kava drinking is a tradition for the men of the family. All over Tonga, men get together at night to sit in a circle, chat and drink kava. Kava is prepared in a three legged kava bowl and served in a halved coconut shell. Each man in the circle is served in order of importance of the village or group and they must clap before drinking. In the Tongan culture, rank is fundamental. No two people have the same rank and they may have to go back through the generations to determine their status. In Tonga there is a three tiered system: * Royalty are the highest ranked
* Nobles are the next highest
* And commoners are the lowest ranked.
In Tonga, land is owned only by the king, government or the nobles. Tongans who live on land owned by the King or the nobility pay no tax and in exchange give gifts to the land owner in times on funerals, weddings, birthdays and other ceremonies. People who live on government land pay a property tax. Land is passed down the generations through the eldest son, who then can gift the land to some of his younger siblings. Possessions in the Tongan culture are shared, the thought “of this is mine” and “that is yours” is non-existent in the minds of a Tongan. In fact Tongans had their kitchens by the road side so that they could give food to people as they passed by. Now as time went on to the now present Tongans attitude to possessions stayed the same. For example you my walk up to a Tongan and say quite innocently, “I like the hat you are wearing today” and nine times out of ten the Tongan will just insist that you have it. Tonga is the only Pacific Island nation never colonised by a foreign power. Uniquely, Tonga has also never lost its indigenous governance. After over 1000 years of rule, today’s monarchy and its structure still remain the most powerful and influential entity in Tonga. Grandparents tell stories around the evening fire passing on knowledge and principles to the children. Each story can have several different lessons for both the young and the old. The lessons may be as varied as how to act clever, how to be imaginative, how to be smart and get a beautiful girl's attention, how to be successful by working hard, and how to behave in certain situations. Among the Tongans, there is a strong belief that children must be taught and trained for adult life. Children are taught proper...
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