In Tonga, the first Sunday in May is dedicated to the children of Tonga. This is a special Sunday where Tongans in the Kingdom of Tonga and anywhere in the world celebrate their children. It is referred to as ‘Fakame’, ‘White Sunday’ or ‘The Children’s Sunday’.
This year, Beth Shalom Tongan Uniting Church, in South Lakes here in WA, was no exception to what was happening in Tonga on this special Sunday. The children from our church dressed in their absolute finest and performed for their families and friends. It was a special day for Beth Shalom and our Tongan Community in Perth to acknowledge and celebrate our children by hosting a special program for them. The whole service was conducted by the children with the main purpose of thanking the Lord for their lives and blessings.
The content of the program included scriptural recitations (‘vesi lauloto’), reading and singing hymns, biblical story re-enactments, and creative performances. Older children in the Youth Group were given the opportunity to participate and assist in organising the Fakame to ensure a high standard of performances and an effective service. Children were also accorded privileges normally reserved for elders, such as being the first to be served food during meal time and spoiling them on their special Sunday.
The children and youth practiced for several weeks under the guidance and leadership of their respective Sunday School Teachers. Rev Uto Fotu, Minister at Beth Shalom Tongan Uniting Church, delivered the sermon with the key message of ‘loving one another’. He emphasised that “the children need all the love they can get, we as parents must provide them with an environment that is free from physical and emotional abuses.
“Instead of punishing them for their mistakes we must explain to them why a particular behaviour is not acceptable and we may have to do that many times for them to understand.
“Remember to raise them in Godly love,” he said.
The service was followed by a huge feast called ‘Faka’afe’. Each family contributed food to share. Our children were spoiled with all their favourite food and drinks such as pizzas, fried chicken, fried rice, sweet and sour pork, icecream and cakes just to name a few.
White Sunday is celebrated by Tongan congregations and families throughout ethnic Tongan expatriate communities around the world.
Dan Tanielu Aifi
Top image: Members at Beth Shalom Tongan Uniting Church dressed in their finest for Fakame, an event celebrating children.