BY BARNABAS MANEBONA
THE first ‘Pana Festival’ being held on the 6th of July at Haroro Village, Big Ngella, should be a living memory for the people of Ngella.
These are the words of Mr Ray Mano a local senior leader of Sandfly who was preferred to give a brief history talk of Ngella’s Pana (root crop) explaining its significance for the people of Ngella during the 2018 Independence Cruise to Ngella marking Solomon Islands 40th Anniversary coinciding with the one day ‘Pana Festival’.
“Historically Pana is not a discovered root crop but a traditional crop on its own in the history of Ngella people,” explained Mr Mano.
“In Ngella it is usually grown in large scale being a staple food bearing a significant merit in the culture and tradition of Ngella people’s lifestyle.”
“Its absence in any traditional ceremonies and occasions such as over land, hand-over’s, marriages, feasts and other important occasions is regarded as of low morale.”
Mr Mano elaborated that Pana is grown from local gardens of slash and burn traditional method, rotationally of crops system.
“Pana has many different varieties with different names according to their behaviour and characteristics of taste, appearance, size and growth. There is the preservation need from harvesting to the next new planting which usually takes about six to seven months to harvest after new planting,” said Mr Mano.
Some of the different Pana recipe’s in Ngella being also displayed during last week’s Pana Festival includes flavours such as in puddings (Ghola) mixed with coconut creams or dried Ngali nuts and Tutu Pana (a special Pana recipe being cooled with dried nuts).
Some of the types of Pana amongst the 14 different varieties in Ngella are Pana Tina, Gani, Pana Sisi, Kavu meme, Roma, Pana Vohe, Pana lusemu, Pana Uvi, Pana Rumaga, Pana Tutupi and Pana Moli.
“Go around the stalls and ask for information if you are interested in the different types of Pana with their recipes,” encouraged a happy Mr Mano to the visitors to Haroro last week through which from observation, many tasted from the different recipes of Pana Varieties enjoying their time.
“A Ngella family’s wealth is measured also by ranking through the number of Pana gardens and Pana sizes they have,” said Mr Mano.
“The larger a family is set-up with their Pana determines how they will be honoured in Ngella.”
“Any family who has less or none of such will be regarded as of low standard.”
Pana in Ngella context is also used for bartering and being the custom food to welcome Chiefs and high ranking people.