By Lori Lyn Lirio
GOV. Ralph DLG Torres and first lady Diann Torres were recently honored by the Pohnpei community who bestowed on them the Lukhan sau sap and Luhk pein titles through Nan Mwarki Kerbet Hebel during the sakau ceremony held at the Garapan Central Park.
The Pohnpei community hosted the ceremony in honor of the King and Queen Rihna Une Abraham, who were then participating in the week-long Pacific Islands Bilingual Bicultural Association or PIBBA conference.
PIBBA International President Frances Mary Sablan, walked the spectators through the sakau ceremony.
“It is a ritual that is done when the nan mwarki or king and queen when they arrived to any place especially in Pohnpei,” she said, “because they are here for PIBBA’s conference they brought their sakau here.”
“These sakau roots were brought in from Pohnpei. We don’t have them here, we only have the powder. They have to bring in the real stuff,” she added.
Made from the root of kava plant, sakau is a thick, mud-like drink served in Pohnpei and other Pacific areas.
The ceremony started with a prayer and followed by the laying of roots on the rock – a large, flat slab stone. Each of the four men, dressed in koahl or traditional grass skirt, wielded with fist-size stone and pounded the roots.
Each pound produced musical sound. When the roots became powder, it then wrapped in wet hibiscus bark. The hibiscus bark was twisted and squeezed and a slimy, thick concoction dripped to the coconut shell, which served as the glass.
“The first drip has to be for the king. Before consuming it, his entourage – sitting below him – need to look at it first and investigate it to make sure that it is consumable by the king. He [king] gets the first drink of the sakau and other royalty members can partake after the king,” Sablan said.
The second serving of sakau was given to the queen. Another serving was given to the governor. The first lady did not partake.
The local leaders were also called, consuming the sakau in front of the king.
“They also called up other community leaders one at a time to pay homage to the royalty and at the same time partake of the ceremonial drink,” Sablan explained.
Lt. Gov. Victor Hocog, Mayor David Apatang, former Lt. Gov. Diego Benavente, and CPA board member Roman Tudela Jr. also drank the sakau.
Before the ceremony started, a big swine was killed. It was then roasted and divided to the members of the community.
Pohnpeian women rendered two songs for the royalty, followed by offering of gifts to the king and queen.