Tonga begins coronation festivities

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NUKU’ALOFA, Tonga: Tonga on Saturday began a week of celebrations to mark the upcoming coronation of the Pacific nation’s monarch, King Tupou VI, with an ancient ceremony involving the mildly narcotic drink kava. The build-up to the July 4 coronation started near the Royal Palace in Nuku’alofa, where chiefs from around the kingdom presented gifts of pigs and yams to the king. Sitting in a circle wearing traditional ta’ovala mats around their waists, about 150 nobles drank kava from coconut shells in a ceremony dating back centuries. Street parties, black-tie balls, fashion shows and choral recitals will be held over the next week before King Tupou VI is officially crowned in the capital’s Free Wesleyan Church.

AFP

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