Cross, kalasha and crescent

Hindu altar
This Hindu altar contains a prayer lamp placed in front of a kalash khumba, the Hindu symbol of creation. It was photographed on the 13th day of a funeral, when offerings and prayers are made for the soul of the departed.
Source: Museum Victoria Fiji Community Photographic Collection

In Fiji, religion is deeply entwined with culture and identity. For many ethnic Fijians, lotu (religion) is inseparable from matanitu (government) and vanua, their relationship with the land. This has added to the complexity of the coups and their effect on Fiji’s people.

An indigenous religion based on totemic ancestor worship was first challenged by the arrival of Methodist missionaries in 1835. Today the majority of ethnic Fijians are Christians. Fiji Indians, on the other hand, have largely retained the Hindu and Muslim faiths they brought from India during the indenture period.

These social and religious traditions have been brought to Victoria, as many Fiji Indians celebrate the Hindu festivals of Diwali and Holi or observe the Muslim fast of Ramadan, and many ethnic Fijians attend the Uniting Church or other Christian churches. Although the groups have drifted apart since the coups, they respect each others’ religions. Ethnic Fijians sometimes attend Diwali, and Christmas is an important secular celebration for Fiji Indians.

While living in Victoria, some people have embraced new ideas about their religious practice, and have taken these back to Fiji through visits and missions. For other people, though, adherence to custom has provided continuity in their new land.

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