Yesterday, a Bon Ani group came and sang for us at Talua.
One of the things I have come to cherish most in Vanuatu, is that every group is also a choir. Singing, and singing together, is integral and important in everyday life.
This group came from one of the local villages. Based around a cell group, and including anyone from their village who wanted to join in, they sang songs for the new year and danced as they sang. There were the elderly, the young, the lame and even those great with child.
You might notice from the photo that they are not dressed in particularly flash clothes, or even in uniform, but are decorated with flowers and leaves. They carry "Christmas bush", the flowers of which fell as they danced, forming a red carpet.
You may not be able to notice the instruments. Those playing the bush bass and the guitars are in the middle of the group. The singers form concentric circles around them. Many traditional dances also have this pattern, often with the men on the inside and women on the outside.
In the photo below you can see two women bending over. They are women from Talua, showing their appreciation of the songs by rubbing sweet smelling oil on their legs. You may also notice the powder around the back of some necks, another custom of honour and welcome.
An unexpected pleasure.