Introduction / History
Eighty-two islands, strung like pearls across 800 miles of the south Pacific, comprise Vanuatu. Most of the atolls of this nation, located 1,100 miles east of Australia, are volcanic, with high mountains and rich soil.
Two legends demonstrate how traditional religion weaves together the basic worldview in this part of Vanuatu. In one, on the Banks Islands of Vanuatu, Qat, a creator god, hero and the first being, formed the islands and filled them with trees, animals and plants. Then, carving dolls from wood and dancing and singing them into life, he made humans and created day and night so they could work and then sleep.
In another legend, a creator god sprinkled the ground with his own blood and made twin brothers, To-Kabinana and To-Karvuvu, in the islands of Vanuatu and New Britain. Becoming a creator hero, To- Kabinana produced many good things, while his brother brought evil and troubles to the world.
Most Naha’ai, or Malfaxal as they are also called, revere many deities and adhere to strict rituals to maintain life’s balance. Christians show their faith through church attendance. Anyone inactive in church risks being accused of sorcery.
Between volcanic mountains, farmers raise livestock and cultivate enough vegetables and fruit to feed their families. In addition to farming, many fish and others make a livelihood in tourism.
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