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Heiva I Tahiti, French Polynesia

Heiva I Tahiti, French Polynesia

While it may not be as much a part of the collective consciousness as other international festivals, Heiva I Tahiti holds its own in terms of cultural significance; attendance; and hip shaking, drum beating, dance-till-you-drop fun. During Heiva, groups from the various archipelagos of French Polynesia (and beyond) congregate in Tahiti for a month of festivities and competitions.

Heiva comes from the words hei, meaning to assemble, and va, meaning community places. So really, Heiva pertains to anything from activities and pastimes to physical exercise, dance, and movement. At its core, though, Heiva means festival. Music, singing, dancing and sporting events--performances in general--have always been integral to Polynesian culture. In ancient times, these performances were essential components of religious and political ceremonies, and dance was one of the most sophisticated and ritualized art forms.