The dark corners of the Panama cemetery in Nikao will see light tonight when Cook Islanders will come together to mark Turama, or “All Souls Day”.
The festival common among Catholic faith followers is celebrated to remember and honour loved ones that have passed away.
This week, families came together to clean up their graveyards, then throughout the day decorate the graves with beautiful and fragrant flowers.
Candles are placed, ready to be lit in the evening and then left to burn through the night.
The Fijian Catholic community living in Rarotonga also got their hands dirty, cleaning the graves of early missionaries who brought the faith to the Cook Islands at the Old Cathedral Cemetery in Avarua on Monday.
“It’s only appropriate because the universal church has set aside month of October as month for missionaries so our Fiji Catholic community as way of remembering the missionaries decided to clean and repaint their graves, getting it ready for Turama,” said community member Kimi Narovu.
Bishop Paul Donoghue said Turama was a time for reflection, sharing, beauty, remembrance and a celebration of life and the after-life.
Bishop Donoghue said the islanders gather at grave sites and swap stories, sometimes laughing, sometimes silent as they remember their departed family and friends.
In the evening there are services and non-denominational programmes to remember loved ones who have died, he added.
“In Cook Island culture, ancestors are honoured.
“Sometimes when we hear genealogies being proclaimed we realise it is a treasure to be able to recall the family dead.
“So as families gather around their graves, the children can be told about their ancestors and some of the stories that are associated with these family members,” Bishop Donoghue earlier said.
“Turama is a family celebration where the living recall their deceased loved ones. It enables us to get in touch with our family roots and its history and to keep it alive in the family.”
A special mass will be held tonight at Panama cemetery.