By Maryanne Hanette
Marriage is the last step of match making of the husband and wife and sometimes occurs when the family of the man agrees a woman they think best matches their son and make arrangements. In the past this practice was done to settle conflicts, maintain the ownership over land and to maintain family ties.
Traditionally for their marriage to be accepted and considered valid they have to go through certain process.
Match making is traditionally the first step and the current generation exercises their own choice, which must then be permitted by the village elders or the clans.
The next step they take is the hipolasa, which simply means ‘to bring’ in the Haku language. This is done if the decision is agreed and accepted by the chiefs of both clans.
During the process of hipolasa the woman is dressed traditionally upon the advice of the elderly women. The woman’s clan bring together baskets of kaukau, taro, banana and bales of rice.
When the preparation is done they then bring the woman to the man’s house. The bride is accompanied by an elderly woman to the man’s house and from there the woman is then welcomed by an elderly chief woman from the groom’s family.
Betel nut is distributed for everyone to chew as a traditional means of welcoming one another and then everyone eats the food the man’s clans had prepared. Towards the end there is an exchange of the foods that each clan prepared.
At the end of the day the woman stays with the man and his family or clan while her clan returns home bringing with them the food and money the man’s clans has given them as means of appreciation for bringing the woman to her husband.
This custom is slowly fading and today many people either do not know or do not practice the tradition. This is witnessed by the way in which the younger generations choose their spouses. Most of them they choose their partners at their own will and village elders or chiefs have no right to say anything.