Sunday, January 07, 2007

Sunday Scribblings: Kissing

“Ancient lovers believed a kiss would literally unite their souls,
because the spirit was said to be carried in one's breath.”
When I started working for the Office of the Race Relations Commissioner in New Zealand I started to spend a lot more time on marae and at hui or meetings hosted by different Maori iwi (tribes) or groups. I had the wonderful chance to learn some Maori language and protocol. I think that I am suited to have a little more ritual in my world than modern, Western life usually provides. As a result, perhaps, of this I loved what I learned - rituals and ceremonies to help provide a pathway through some of lifes most difficult or significant moments. One of the aspects of these rituals that I love is the hongi - a form of kiss - that follows the formal speeches and prayers of a welcome ceremony and completes the coming together as one of the hosts and the visitors. The hongi involves pressing noses, but the significance is in the intermingling of breath, the joining together of that which is most essential in each person, the breath of life. Once you have been fully welcomed on to a marae in this manner (sealed with the hongi) you are no longer a visitor (manuhiri) you are now one of the people of that place. I have never got over the amazing privilege of being accepted and welcomed so completely, but I do understand why it could only happen after a moment as intimate as the kiss of shared breath. PS: My initial thought when I read this prompt was to write about the politics of kissing here in Afghanistan, but then I read Home in Kabul's post and knew that I couldn't put it better, so instead I recommend that you read her post. For more words on kissing see Sunday Scribblings

9 comments:

homeinkabul said...

Frida, that's very interesting about the Maori. I like the ceremony of it, of welcoming a visitor into the community. I'd still be interested in reading your perspective of the politics of kissing in Afghanistan.

Crafty Green Poet said...

Nice post, I like the idea of the hongi.

Regina Clare Jane said...

We met some Maoris when we were in NZ a few years ago now and really, theirs is such a fascinating culture. So real...
Shared breath- I really like that...

Jerri said...

Very interesting how the intermingling of breath significes acceptance.

Thanks for a great post.

paris parfait said...

Fascinating info - I especially like your phrase "...the significance is in th eintermingling of breath, the joining together of that which is most essential in each person, the breath of life."

Laini said...

So interesting, the significance and ritual of kissing in other cultures. I'm sure there has already most likely been a book done on it, but I wonder if there is a beautiful, coffee-table type book about kissing around the world? Wouldn't that be wonderful? That's what I'd like to have on my coffee table! And about the Maori, I did some research about Maori history last fall and WOW, that's some fascinating (and grotesque) stuff. I would love to learn more, and I hope to get to New Zealand before too many more years pass by.

susanna said...

To be accepted and welcomed by the hongi in that matter IS an amazing privilege. What an experience that must have been!

Sophie said...

What an interesting story! Would love to learn more about that culture. can you recommend some books/articles/sites? :)

Thanks for sharing this!!

Sophie

[a} said...

What a cool experience!