When someone excitedly told me it was almost ‘Bula in Fiji time’, as our trip approached, I nodded and smiled and shifted my feet uncomfortably. What does bula Fiji time mean I silently wondered.
Facing the broad grin of delight of our friend I just didn’t have the heart, or truth be told the courage, to say I was clueless as to what in the world bula meant.
Meekly I quietly asked , ” What does bula mean?.”
It turns out our well wisher bestowed on us the one word needed for traveling to Fiji. Bula in the Fijian language has multiple meanings and may be one of the most useful terms I have encountered in any language.
Like the Hawaiian ‘aloha’, in Fiji the use of the word bula ( pronounced bool-ah) depends on the situation. Arriving in Fiji, the warm and loving people shower bula bula on you as if congratulating you for finding their piece of paradise.
Translated, the multifaceted word bula in Fiji means life. Without question the word bula is most frequently used as a greeting or basically hello.
When wishing someone good health in Fiji, bula can also be used as an abbreviation for “Ni sa bula vinaka,” (pronounced as nee-sahm-bula-veenaka). Bula seems much easier in my linguistically challenged opinion. If someone sneezes offering up a bula and a tissue is appropriate as well.
The people of Fiji are unfailingly welcoming and warm. To hear their “Bulas!” makes one feel as though you are the most special visitor ever to greet the sandy shores. As far as we can tell bula can also be used to express the state of the weather, wish farewell, have a lovely day and many blessings.
Even though our trip to Fiji came two weeks after a cyclone the bula Fiji meaning remained true. Warm and welcoming.
Now I can’t stop saying it. Try it with me. Come on you know you want to.
All together now!
“BULA, BULA, BULA , BULA!”
Are you smiling? So are the people of Fiji. I think the English language needs a little bula. I’m going to try it at the grocery store check out when I get home. Stay tuned.
Do you have a greeting or word you have taken as a souvenir in your travels?