PORT VILA: Vanuatu displayed its diverse culture and tradition as the relay traversed across the island nation. Relay’s 180 day was dedicated to rituals, ancient traditions and the customs of Vanuatu which are still alive in remote and untouched Pentecost Island.
Pentecost Island is a tropical Island in the South Pacific Republic of Vanuatu where most of the islanders live in small villages and grow their own food in small gardens for living.
The 180th day of the relay started by a flight journey to Pentecost Island where at the airport tarmac the Village Chief and group of custom dancers escorted the realy team towards the beach for a handover of the baton to Heerman Pierre, footballer from Ambrym Island.
He took the baton on a 30 minute boat ride to the remote waterfalls village where the baton was greeted by hundreds of students and islanders. The Village Chief welcomed the baton and all the delegates with traditional basket and flower garlands, followed by a mat ceremony and flag raising ceremony, and children singing the National Anthem and God Save The Queen, followed by traditional Kava ceremony.
The baton was the handed to Louis Bule, national champion for 800 metres in athletics who carried the baton to the base of the waterfall on the island with an enchanting view.
After the ceremony, an 8 kilometre relay started with huge crowd support and enthusiastic young people of Pentecost running all the way bare foot on the rough path, jumping the streams in between - nothing could stop them. The relay concluded at the Hotwater site where boiling water flows from the hill. The relay, later, headed back to the village airstrip where a number of Batonbearers ran fervently.
The Baton then headed towards the most extravagant and extraordinary ritual in the whole of the Pacific known as ‘nanggol’ land-diving (the original bungee jump) for which Pentecost is particularly well-known. This ritual only takes place when the yams are ripe for the picking, in April/May the time when the vines reach their maximum strength; it was very fortunate that the baton visited Vanuatu in April.
The ceremony started with traditional dancing and singing whilst a nanggol prepared to jump from 35 metre tower made of vines and timber. There were three levels in the tower: Jumpers on the first two jumped with joy on their faces and when the third nanggol was ready to jump the baton was passed to him - an enormous moment for nanggols and Queen’s Baton 2010 Delhi - and he then jumped, flying through the air and completing a smooth landing.