The Cook Islands festival, Turama, is a beautiful and spectacular celebration on the island of Rarotonga that honours the dead.In the week leading up to All Soul’s Day, families come together to clean up their graveyards.All through All Soul’s Day (November the 1st) islanders decorate graves with beautiful and often fragrant flowers… frangipani, gardenias and hibiscus are strung in garlands about the grave sites.Special candles are placed, ready to be lit in the evening of November 1st and then left to burn all over the island through the night.It is lovely to drive around the island and see constellations of flickering candle light as you pass the many roadside graveyards.
Turama is a Roman Catholic celebration, but all denominations now join in this poignant and lovely celebration.On November 1st, islanders gather at grave sites and swap stories, sometimes laughing, sometimes silent as they remember their loved ones. It is a time for reflection, sharing, beauty, remembrance and a celebration of life and the after-life. In the evening there are services and non-denominational programs to remember loved ones who have died.
- Phillippa Rowlands