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heiva : Umu ti - Fire walking 2021
The sacred fire walking is a tradition that can be found in various civilizations, especially in Asia, in India, and which dates back to the dawn of time.
In Polynesia, the umu tî ceremony originated in the traditional cooking of tî tuber roots (cordyline fruticosa).
Tî is a plant whose root is cooked for four to five days, serving as food for several months (in times of famine or war).
This native plant (whose leaves are called 'autî) has an important cultural role, possessing a great magical power given by the tahu’a (priest).
The umu tî ceremony (a rite that has almost disappeared in south Pacific) has reappeared for more than 60 years and precedes the Heiva festival. Its date is chosen according to the Polynesian lunar calendar.

Since 1983, the priest Raymond Teriierooiterai Graffe has taken up the torch and now officiates at the place Otia Rahi Manotahi Na Mano, known as Mahana Park (Punaauia district). Raymond Graffe prepares himself spiritually and isolates himself in the mountain, before each ceremony. “I retire to the mountains for several days to meditate, fast, commune with nature and gods
army, pay homage to my ancestors and communicate with the gods” the priest says.
Then the preparations begin with the choice of volcanic stones, which come from the mouths of rivers, the wood of 'aito (iron wood – casuarina equisetifolia) which serves as fuel, and dried leaves of coconut tree in order to ignite the fire. On the day
of the ceremony, all the elements are arranged in a precise order to obtain a pit about 8 m by 2.50 m wide and the fire begins early in the morning to reacha surface temperature of nearly 1,000°C.

At nightfall, the high priest begins his incantations and begins to strike the heated lava stones, with long
and wide leaves of sacred 'autî. The tahu’a then crosses the blaze without being burned, signifying the presence of the mana (power) necessary for the success of the ceremony. Then the guests and volontiers can go through the furnace to purify their body and mind. Each year several hundred spectators flock to experience these mythical moments specific to Polynesian culture.

Fare rata, the French Polynesia Post Office, through this stamp offers you to share these moments imbued with the Polynesian soul.

Find your philatelic circular here

Unit price: 190 FCFP (1,59 €)
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