“Bure Kalou”

 A Fijian house of worship, or temple from pre-Christian times
PCC Fijian Village bure kalou

The PCC’s Bure kalou or “spirit house” in the Fijian Village has the highest foundation of all.

This full-scale replica in the Fiji Village at The Polynesian Culture Center on the island of Oahu, Hawaii is the only bure kalou outside of Fiji.

Throughout Polynesia, places of worship were crafted on layered platforms, some with pyramids. Fiji is the only culture to place a 6 story building on a platform. They believed that the taller the place of worship, the closer the people would be to their gods.

 The clan of priests had sole charge of the temple grounds and building. The chief could enter the building to confer with the priests or talk directly to the gods. There are no images in the building. A plain, white strip of tapa, or masi hangs from the center that symbolized the pathway for the gods to descend. The chief of the village sat near the end of the tapa, allowing himself to become a conduit between the gods and the villagers.

Artist rendition of a typical Fijian Village with a Bure Kalau – courtesy of coconut.tv

Fijian chiefs in those days had absolute power.  Everything was done as the chief decreed, and according to his whim, people could live or die.  If your village suffered from drought, flooding, or any number of natural disasters attributed to angry gods, the chief could take the priest’s life hoping to appease the gods.

Bure Kalous were in active use until the 1860s. As the Fijian people adopted Christianity and became governed by the British Colony in 1864 the Bure Kalou was replaced by Christian churches. 

Explore the Fiji Village  at The Polynesian Cultural Center

Picture of Fijian Villager performing at The Polynesian Cultural Center

Here at The Polynesian Cultural Center you can feel the power as Fijian warriors give you an enthusiastic welcome while the women entertain with traditional dance. Then get your Fijian groove on pounding a derua (bamboo stick.)  You can also learn how to be a time traveler in Fiji by stepping from here to there! Confused? It will all make sense in the Fijian Village where you can learn how to make coconut oil, get a tattoo (temporary style, of course) and gaze up, up, up at the awe inspiring 6 story temple. While you’re there, make sure to locate the chief’s home. Just be careful. Entering the wrong door can become an international incident!

From there you can also visit the Hawaiian, Samoan, Tahitian, Tongan and Moari villages, eat at our popular luau buffet with island entertainment and attend our award winning evening show spectacular, Ha: Breath of Life. Don’t just see the culture, become a part of it, here at The Polynesian Cultural Center on the north shore of Oahu in beautiful Hawaii. Click here to learn more!


Nina S Jones

Nina S Jones

Nina Jones, a mainland gal from way back, is now a transplanted Islander. With her husband of 39 years, she volunteers at the Polynesian Cultural Center. Her hobbies include swimming, traveling, studying and writing about what she is learning from the various Polynesian cultures. Her blogs focus on their history, beliefs, practices and – as an added bonus – delicious food! To her, Polynesia is not just a place to visit, it is a way to live and she is very honored to be able to be a part of their amazing world.