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Friday, August 16, 2013

the pig is ready

     Here is a picture of the pig and the food that I wrote about in the previous post.
        I went down to Miani’s village about 1 pm. Judy and some of the other ladies from the village had already gone to their garden and gathered the bananas and vegetables.As with any event in PNG We all sat around and talked and told stories for several hours as people came. Then there was a lot of discussion on how we were going to tie up the pig. It is a very large pig for PNG and it’s tusks were starting to come out so they were very concerned about restraining it well while the legs were being tied up. Everyone finally agreed on the method and all the men went to get it. It ended up taking 6 guys to hold it down and 4 more to tie the feet. I was surprised by how strong it was. After we finished tying it up and carrying it back up to the villages Judy prepared a small meal for all the people who helped get everything ready. We ate and then the discussion began about getting it to Judy’s family.
      We originally thought Judy’s family was going to come and get everything and carry it all up to their village. We quickly realized the pig was too heavy for them to carry all the way to their village. Papa Ganig then launched into a “back in may day” speech about when he was young they carried pigs like this for 15 miles up the side of a mountain. I guess that sort of nostalgia is universal. He finally relented to the consensus and I went and got the largest POC vehicle, a 4 ton flat bed truck outfitted with a shed and benches. We loaded the pig and all the food on the truck and then pretty much the whole village got on the truck and carried it up to the other village. When we arrived the pig and all the vegetables were unloaded and carried down the Judy’s uncle’s house in a grand procession. The food and pig were brought into the village in a single file procession and then pilled up in a way that made it look even more impressive. It was very dark by this point and that seemed to add to the drama of the whole thing. As each new item entered into the light of the lamps and were added to the heap they almost seemed to be appearing out of nothing. Once all the food had arrived there were a series of speeches made by both families about how sorry everyone was for the loss and how the bonds between the two families were strengthened. Judy’s family then presented Miani’s family with a small pile of food, in thanks for the pig. Finally, everyone talked for a while and then we all got back on the truck and went back to Miani’s village.
      Judy’s family will cook all night to prepare all the food we brought in addition to what they have gathered. The Huas Krai meal will happen Saturday afternoon and then they will take it down. Miani and Judy will make a separate meal in their village Sunday afternoon with the food they were given for everyone who helped there.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Piggy Predicament

      Well as most of you know we have a pig here and we were going to eat it when we got back. Miani and Judy are our closest friends here and they have been looking after the pig. Just after we returned Judy’s mother died. Just like everywhere else deaths are a big thing in PNG. Not like everywhere else, they require several feasts to mark different events during the mourning period. The first is during the burial time. The family actually makes several big meals during this time to feed the gathering family and the mourners. The family and friends are responsible for providing this food. The closer you are to the immediate family the greater the burden to provide food. There is also a greater sense of responsibility for people who have jobs or access to money.

     We have basically been adopted as brother and sister to Miani and Judy. Judy’s dad is also a language teacher at POC. I (matt) was a facilitator for his group during one of the courses and we developed a friendship then too. During this burial time we gave a 10kg (a little over 20 pounds) bag of rice to help with the food preparations.

     During this first phase the immediate family builds a temporary shelter where they gather and receive friends, called a Haus Krai. The family continues to receive visitors in the structure for several weeks after the burial. Then the family decides on a day that they will take down the structure. The removal of this structure marks the end of the morning period. On that day a very large meal is prepared for everyone who has been involved in the Huas Krai. It is customary for a pig to be killed for the closing feast. This is where our pig comes into play. Miani’s adopted father Papa Ganig wanted all of us to give the pig to Judy’s family. So he bought a new baby pig to replace ours.

     So, Friday Miani and I will get the pig and some garden vegetables ready. Judy’s brothers will come down and we will present the pig and the vegetables to them. This gift will reinforce and strengthen the bond between the families.This is also a prime example of how things that we as westerners think of as individually owned are actually communal property in PNG.