Map of Tonga in the South Pacific

Map of Tonga in the South Pacific

Thursday, June 2, 2011

And the band(s) played on!

Education Day and celebrating the Queen’s birthday
It was a beautiful day for a celebration on May 27. It was warm and the sun was shining, with just enough clouds to keep it from getting too hot. People gathered by the thousands in Teufaiva Stadium (where Sport Week was also held) for Education Day and to celebrate the Queen’s 85th birthday. When I arrived at 9:30 the high school brass bands were playing and the primary school children were gathering on the field by school groups. At 10 the festivities began with prayers and a hymn, and then the singing of Happy Birthday to the Queen.
Primary schools gather on the field.

Singing Happy Birthday to the Queen.

 I was fortunate to be sitting next to a woman who had been instrumental in the education and music field, though now retired, and she gave me a wealth of information about the different dances and the traditional dress they wore.
The Queen's grandson attends Tonga College. He had the honor of presenting gifts to her. They performed a war dance.

Teacher Institute of Education students perform a seated dance.

Performance by Queen Salote College women. (Painted tapa cloth) The students seated behind them are singing.

A war dance. The music for this performance was drums--students beating the time on sheet metal.

For their dance these young women are wearing unpainted tapa that has been cut.

Coffee, tea, or milo? Cream or sugar? You can see that there's a performance on the field behind them.
 Since I had an invitation, I was also treated to tea (in china cups!) and refreshments. There were sandwiches, cut into triangles, and chocolate cake. Later there were plates of sliced fruit, and coconuts with straws to drink the water. Refreshments were served while the high schools presented their dances and entertainment. I marveled at the organization this event took, and the ease with which it happened. Everyone seemed to be where they were supposed to be, when they were supposed to be. The school children were quiet and well behaved. The music was a delight for the ears; the dances a feast for the eyes. I’m sorry you can’t hear the music, but here are some photos. (I took so many, but I’ll try not to overdo it on the blog. If you’d like a link to see them all in an album in Picasa, let me know.)


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