Because the population in the Republic of Fiji consists of a mixture of Christians, Hindus and Muslims, the nation celebrates an amalgam of holidays that showcase its multiracial, multicultural make-up.
Holi, the Hindu “Festival of Colors,” brings the Indo-Fijian community to life in February or March every year (it’s based on the Hindu calendar). Holi is the least religious and most social of the Hindu holidays celebrated in Fiji, and on this day Hindus of all castes and classes engage in spraying colored powders and water, throwing parties, visiting relatives and exchanging sweets. Diwali, the Hindu “Festival of Lights” is another major Hindu holiday observed in Fiji. It is a celebration of the goodness of Lord Ram triumphing over evils in India, and it takes place in October or November of every year. Hindus commemorate Diwali by lighting candles and small oil lamps. Lord Ram’s Birthday is also a public holiday in Fiji and falls in March or April of every year.
Fiji’s Muslims celebrate Eid-al-Adha and Eid-al-Fitr, which are based on the lunar calendar and falls in a different month every year. Eid-al-Adha commemorates Prophet Ibrahim’s devotion to Allah and his willingness to sacrifice his son Ismael to prove his devotion, and Eid-al-Fitr, which is the larger of the two holidays, celebrates the end of the month of Ramadan, during which Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset for 27-28 days. Fijian Muslims attend communal Eid prayers at local mosques and visit each others’ homes and give gifts of money to children during these two holidays. Prophet Muhammad’s Birthday is also a public holiday in Fiji.
Of the Christian holidays celebrated throughout Fiji, Christmas is, of course, paramount. Christmas Eve is usually spent singing carols and going to church, and on Christmas Day, children receive toys and books from Santa Claus. Villagers throw huge communal parties and Christians in the more urban areas have picnics and parties on the beach. Good Friday and Easter are also public holidays and Fijians get a long weekend off.
Many secular holidays are also observed throughout Fiji. New Year’s Day is one of the most festive, with processions and celebrations lasting anywhere from a week to a month. At the end of May, Fiji celebrates Ratu Sukuna Day, which honors Ratu Sir Lala Sukuna, a popular statesman and former high chief who is commonly considered the father of modern Fiji. Sukuna died at age 70 on May 30, 1958.
On June 15, Fiji tips its hat to its British occupation and heritage by commemorating the birthday of Queen Elizabeth II, the Paramount Chief of Fiji. Another major holiday during which Fijians spend up to a week in revelries is Fiji Day on October 10. This holiday interestingly commemorates both Fiji’s cession to the United Kingdom in 1874 and its achieving of independence in 1970. Many celebrations are held in the days leading up to Fiji Day to honor the nation’s cultural diversity.