To understand the practice, one must first learn the legend that began five hundred years ago. On the Fijian Bega Island, where the Outrigger Fiji Beach Resort has built a haven, there lived an old man who would tell epic stories to the eager youth of the island in return for gifts. One young man, Tunaiviqalita, yearned to hear these stories, so he made a deal with this old man. Tunaiviqalita promised to bring the elder a gift of delicious, fresh eel. The renowned storyteller agreed, and the young man set out on his newfound quest.
As he searched in the stream near his village, he soon found a large rock, under which he would usually find the delicacy he was seeking. He slipped his hand inside a crack under the rock, hoping to grasp onto a cold, squirming eel, but instead felt something warm and soft. He carefully pulled it from the stream, and saw a tapa cloth in perfect condition, but something peculiar was moving inside. A tiny man then jumped out of the cloth, immediately begging Tunaiviqalita not to kill him. This miniscule man promised that in return for mercy he would make Tunaiviqalita the strongest man on the island and make him rich. The young, but comparatively giant man answered that certainly had no need for those things. In desperation, the tiny man then tried something different, “If you don’t kill me, I will give you the ability to walk on fire.”
Tunaiviqalita, incredibly intrigued, accepted the plea. “Then so be it,” said the tiny man. “As long as the sun rises and sets, you and your descendants will be able to walk on fire!”
The tiny man and Tunaiviqalita worked together to build a crackling fire underneath a set of stones which quickly became red hot. This tiny man walked out to the middle of the scorching stones and began to dance. The hesitant Tunaiviqalita suspended his fear, and followed. To his amazement, he felt no suffering at all – instead, immediately beginning to sing in delight at the wonderful gift he had just been granted. As the tiny man had promised, Tunaiviqalita was able to pass his ability to “walk on fire” on through his bloodline on Beqa Island, where they are still praised for their gift.
Today, many of Tunaiviqalita’s descendants live in the villages of Rookwa, Dakubeqa, Dakuni, Soliyaga, and Naceva, and share their traditional art of fire walking for guests to witness at the Outrigger Fiji Beach Resort. It all started with the curiosity for a story, but now, Tunaiviqalita has his own.