Past Cultural Practices and Beliefs in To'abaita
In the past To'abaita men always spent most of their time in the "Biu" (Boys House). Our culture does not allow men to associate a lot with women as this would make them unclean and their powers will be lost. This mindset has resulted in pregnant women being disallowed from the village. This is an anecdotal record about that.
When a woman is 6 months pregnant, the husband or both would build a hut known locally as "Angaru'u" separate from the main village in the bush for her. A month before she delivers the baby, she would collect firewood, food, water and other things ready and put them in the hut ready for when she delivers. The husband can go to the hut with her but not allowed to go close as it will bring bad luck on him or his family. Only the woman's sister-in-law or mother-in-law are allowed to enter the hut.
After she gave birth, according to tradition, she has to shave all her hair off and live in her hut for 3 months. Only her female in-laws can visit her during that period bringing food, water and fire wood. If they are not available, the husband can perform those tasks but he is not allowed to talk or meet his wife. He will take the food, water or fire wood leave them some distance away and shout to his wife who later will come and collect them after her husband left. During those 3 months she is not allowed to follow the foot path that the public use, go to the village or close to gardens or go close to Tambu sites.
The new born baby will only be wrapped in leaves and tree barks. The only thing that would make them warm is a fire in the hut. If the mothers want to go out to colect food, water or firewood she has to either carry the new born with her into the bush or leave the new born baby alone in the Angaru'u.
After 3 months, she may now go back to the village with her baby because according to local tradition she is now considered clean. Three days after she went back to the village if the baby is a boy, the mother will present him to the grandfather in the boys house known as Biu. The grandfather will dedicate the baby by chewing betel nut and put sprinkles of the mixture on the baby's mouth. The pagan priest will then make a sacrifice with a pig as an offering to the devils and spirits of the father of the baby. This is to let them know that the household is now clean and that the baby can now be accepted into the family.
Boys from 9 years and above must live in the Biu and the father and older men will pass on all the cultural teachings to him. For a girl she stays with the father and mother and it is the responsibility of the mother to teach her household chores and norms and prepare her for marriage later in life.
Texts from PF Net