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Stories From Kiribati


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Becoming a woman

Posted by Amota Eromanga on September 19, 2013 at 5:40 AM

Taatita was a twelve year old girl who lived with her parents and grandparents on Tarawa. When the time came to celebrate the fact that Taatita was a young woman instead of a little girl, she stayed inside a hut with her grandmother for three days.

She was given a special diet by her grandmother. This was to teach her how to control and spend her family resources wisely in the future. Her grandmother gave her dried coconut to eat and water to drink in small amounts. She was not allowed to talk so that she could concentrate on her work and would not spend time chatting. This was to teach her the value of quietness and concentration.

In the hut, she wore only a grass skirt made from pandanus leaves chewed by her aunts. She was groomed every morning and her body was anointed with perfumed coconut oil. Taatita was given the task of making string from coconut husk. She was expected to finish ten fathoms of string in three days.

On the third day, Taatita was allowed to come out of the hut. At dawn, she was taken to a special pond. Her grandmother put ground herbal leaves in the water. Taatita got in and bathed. Then she was groomed and changed into a new grass skirt and a pretty new red tibuta. After this, it was time for the celebration.

Taatita’s relatives from both her mother’s and father’s sides came with contributions for the feast. Men killed and roasted pigs. Old women wove baskets and plates for the food. Young women cooked bwabwai, rice, fish, chicken and other kinds of food. Children led by few adults decorated the mwaneaba.

When everyone was ready, feasting began. Taatita was called into the mwaneaba and sat on a newly woven mat. A first born son who was not related to Taatita was invited to sit and eat with her. The men ate first with Taatita and her companion, then the women and children ate afterwards.

At least, Taatita had become a young woman!

Written by Ribwaiti and others.


Categories: Culture & Custom

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