Found in Translation: Bula means Life

Before even stepping off the plane to Fiji, I heard ‘Bula’ greetings all around me. A warm smile accompanied each ‘Bula’.

Bula is a word that originated from the Fijian culture and means hello and much more. It simply translates to life. The idea that each ‘Bula’ greeting is tied to life itself is both warm and beautiful. Through the simple 4 letter word, I feel truly welcomed.

Thank you is also vinaka (vee nah kah) or often nah kah for short.

Most northern point of Viti Levu (the main island of Fiji)

While I’m grateful that English helps me navigate my way through the daily life much easier than the other Asian countries, I am happy to hear greetings and conversations among Fijians exchange in their language. No one talks in a hurry and there is usually lots of ‘io’ (pronounced ee-yo, meaning yes or good).

In some parts of Fiji’s, hello can also be cola (pronounced thola). I found myself using this in the Western part of the island. I’m told there as many as 300 dialects of the language.

Boy in a Fijian village

Life is like this: sometimes sun, sometimes rain. (Fijian Proverb)

I’m looking forward to discovering Fiji – the sun and the rain, the good, the challenging, the learning moments, and everything in between. Most of all to discover, Bula!

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