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Experiencing the ritualistic Rom dance Ambrym Island, Vanuatu

Being one of the most culturally diverse nations in the world, Vanuatu's traditional practices including ceremonial dance, magic and ritual are alive and well. Ambrym Island is considered to be the black magic epicentre of Vanuatu and it's where The Rom dance is performed.

The Fanla or Rom dance is connected to circumcision and initiation traditions for young boys and is an ancient ritual shrouded in secret knowledge. Costumes are kept in strict hiding until the ceremony begins and some of the masks can't be used more than once.

Deep in the dense forest, there is a clearing where large hollowed out drums sit. The rhythmic beating of drums and shakers begin as warriors dressed to represent evil spirits emerge, adorned in a mix of leaves and huge, brightly painted cone like masks. The men stomp their feet to drums, eerie chanting and soft flute music. Make no mistake about it, this will give you goosebumps. This is no tourist show, this is genuine myth, heritage, and belief wrapped in the supernatural and rich in symbolism and it will move you!

The dance while a form of magic, is also a method for the younger members to move up in the ranks of society. They say the fertility of the crops is affected when these dances are performed and masks are burnt at the end of the ceremony to ensure that evil spirits do not haunt the wearer or plague the village.

 


get there

Air Vanuatu flies to Ambrym Island a few times a week. Check the domestic schedule and remember if you book when in Vanuatu with your international ticket in hand, you get 20% off your domestic flight price.

Book everything else through the Vanuatu tourist centre either in the provinces santo.travel or go into the office in Port Vila.

From US$140.

There is a 50 minute walk from the airport to Fanla which was a simple but hot walk. Transfers by bumpy truck take about 20 minutes.

Air Vanuatu
airvanuatu.com

Santo Travel Center
santo.travel

We want you to be moved and inspired by the Rom dance that’s why we’re sharing this highlight with you provided by our buddies at santo.travel

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Tags: Ambrym Island, Rom dance Vanuatu, vanuatu

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