By CHRISTINE GNEH
THERE is the famous Kontu custom of calling the sharks where the calling shark plays a deadly game with one of the ocean’s top predators for its next meal. But there is something more deadly; spit fire as a form of dance.
It’s more of a ritual than an entertainment, but it’s still a crowd pleaser; stunning, to be precise.
Gunshot to the Mouth is a new addition to the annual Malangan Festival, having only recently been introduced.
This is possibly one of the most inexplicable and risky performances of its kind in the world.
The dance is “sacred” and is performed by only a few selected people.
No one except the performer knows the secrets of these breathtaking stunts.
Secrets are kept by the chefs and are hardly shared.
It really is a well-kept secret known only to the Imau villagers of Namatanai in New Ireland and the Pinnepel Islanders of Nissan Island in the Autonomous Region of Bougainville.
Oral Fire Dance is a kind of stage performance that a Western magician might perform that are just tricks to make it seem.
But the fire-breathing is not a trick at all.
It is performed in broad daylight and there are no steps; just dance floors.
It has been a well-kept secret of the people of Imau that is rarely performed publicly.
However, the concept of spitting fire is not new as it has been reported in other places in Papua New Guinea by groups who know the secret.
The most astonishing thing is that the hot coals do nothing to the mouth of the performer.
Swallowing the fire is compared to the infamous Baining fire dance of eastern New Britain, where dancers jump straight into the burning embers with their bare feet and come out unharmed, while a team of ‘traditional musicians’ beats. drums and sings sacred songs in a fast and furious manner.
Usually, participants in sacred ceremonies or dances would undergo fasting and subscribe to very strict routines and rituals in order to be able to reach a state where it will be possible for them to perform incredible feats.
There is usually a heavy reliance on natural plants with prayers to be followed which will bring about the desired result in the act of stunt.
This may be called the custom or the known method.
It was another amazing trip to Papua New Guinea, commonly referred to by adventurers and tourists as the Land of the Unexpected.
What can you expect when there are a million more different trips?