Monday, 25 February 2008 6:54 AM

The Protocols of a 'Custom House'

The Solomon Islands, with its diverse culture and people, have some very unique traditional protocols that must be observed if one were to visit these beautiful Islands.

Makira - Ulawa Province, one of the Nine Provinces in the Solomon Islands, has a unique custom house that comes with ancient protocols.

Frank Hui, a man from Makira, explained the importance of these custom houses.
"In Makira we regard these custom houses, particularly the ones with carved posts, as a house full of symbolism and traditional protocols" said Mr Hui.

"A custom house is a specially built house that symbolizes compassion and kindness, those villages with the most custom houses shows that they have had many great feasts"

More importantly, said Mr Hui, a custom house is one of the greatest gestures from a grown child to her parents "to pay back what their parents did for them when they were children." "It's the best way to express your gratitude to your parents...a big feast is also made in the custom house." Mr. Hui said

While the custom house does have some important symbolic gestures, the ancient protocols are equally important. "Unfortunately women are not allowed to enter the house until the feast is over...it is our belief that if any woman enters the house before the event then the spirits that protects the house and family from harm will leave the house." Asked why this so, Mr Hui said "that's just how it is...I do not have an explanation for it"

Mr Hui was quick to point out that not all men are allowed into the custom house "only authorized men can enter the house."

Mr Hui said that it is important for anyone partaking in the 'opening' of these custom houses to understand its protocols because they are still applied to this day.

"In the Solomon Islands we have very different cultures and people living together, so it's important to learn and understand such traditional protocols so that we do not offend each other" Mr Hui said.

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