Who is the God of Kava: Dengai

Kava Culture
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Legend has it that a Fiji god bestowed kava to its people long ago and was deemed as the drink of knowledge. It was the serpent god named Degei, the creator of Fijian life that gifted kava as means to connect people to nature’s wisdom and thus made him the god of kava.

The origin of kava and the birth of Fiji’s first humans is based on a creation story. Degei was the creator and gifted kava to the island’s first humans thus deeming him the god of kava. There are other stories about how kava originated but this story, in particular, involves the story of Degei the serpent god, and his friend Turuwaka the female hawk.

Polynesian mythology has roots that date back to 1500 BC. There is a rich history and culture that the team here at Kava-Bula enjoy learning about. As the saying goes, “If you love something, always know its roots.” Kava roots that is.

Anyways, when we learn the history of something we enjoy, it gives us a greater appreciation for it. So looking further into the origin of kava and the serpent god Degei, it is said that his friend Turuwaka gave way to 3 events that took place that lead the snake god to gift kava to Fiji’s first humans. Turuwaka’s disappearance, the eggs she had abandoned, and Degei taking care of them as his own.

Let’s take a closer look at these events in the story of Degei, Turuwaka, and the eggs he took as his own that lead to the beginning of human life and kava for Fiji.

Kava God Event 1: Turuwaka’s Disappearance

It is said in Fiji mythology that before the birth of humans in Fiji, there was Degei and his only friend Turuwaka the Hawk. It was pretty lonely on the island for Degei so it was a great discovery for the serpent god to find companionship. Who would have thought that a snake and a hawk could be best buds?

It came as a surprise for Degei that one-day Turuwaka suddenly vanished. Apparently, she went searching for a mate and left without even saying goodbye. Pretty cold if you ask me. So doing what any friend would do in this situation, Degei went looking for his friend.

There are variations of stories about Turuwaka. One story stated that she was not a hawk but actually a rooster that would help Dengei wake up in the mornings. It was later stated that she didn’t go missing but was actually hunted down and killed.

That is a bit more of sad a story so let’s get back to the less tragic one. While Degei was searching far and wide for Turawaka he stumbled upon a nest that had two eggs.

Kava God Event 2: The Abandoned Eggs

Degei found out that these eggs happened to belong to Turuwka, which like himself, was left behind. Not only did Turuwaka leave Degei without saying a word, but she also abandoned her own eggs! Talk about being the sole cause of abandonment issues! If you ask me Turawaka is turning out to be quite the narcissist.

When the serpent god came across the abandoned eggs he took them as his own. Since Turuwaka had left without a trace, Degei choose to do a good deed and look after them. Then one day he found that the eggs had hatched. To his surprise, they were not little chicks but tiny humans.

After the eggs had hatched, Degei instantly began to nurture and protect them as these were the islands’ first people. We begin to understand how this creation story really unfolds to be a tale of compassion and that Degei is sacred because of his caring acts of kindness.

Kava God Event 3: Taking Care of the Humans

Since Degei had these tiny humans to care for, he made it a priority to make sure they had the necessary resources to survive. Degei began to treat these humans as his own children. Two important things every parent needs to provide for their children are food and shelter. Talk about really stepping up as a father figure!

Degei actually put them in a tree to live in but built a shelter. When it came to the food he started to show them how to live off the land. Utilizing nature for food was how he could ensure survival for the humans so Degei began to farm and cultivate their own food around them.

Banana trees, dalo, and yams were planted around them so they could live off the land. These plants are native to the island of Fiji and are still very much a part of traditional dishes on the island today. If you are like me, nothing beats living off of the fruits of your labor.

Although the humans had these three plants to live off of they only could eat from the banana tree because they still did not know the art of fire which was needed for cooking the yams and dalo. Yams and dalo were considered to be the foods of the gods in Fiji.

It wouldn’t be till later when Degei would gift them the knowledge of fire until they were older. During their childhood, Degei had separated them but once they grew older and the time was right he finally allowed them to be around each other. Im sure sparks flew once they met as they were the only man and women on the island.

Now that they had grown up they wanted to know how to harness the gift of fire to be able to eat the foods of the gods. Degei had granted them this gift as well as the greatest gift of all, kava. The kava plant was the gift of knowledge that he had given to humans and to this day are forever grateful.


Since the humans we all grown up he had allowed them to go off on their own and flourish. The serpent god was neither angered nor upset by this because he loved them as his own children and knew they would share their story with others about Degie’s compassion and love for the humans.

Degei the serpent god would be later loved and worshiped throughout the islands of Fiji. The gift of knowledge from the kava plant would be shared and cherished to this very day in Fiji along with the rest of the world to enjoy.

If you enjoyed this Fijian creation story about the god of kava and want to find out more about more stories of the history of kava, be sure to spread the word and subscribe to our free newsletter here at Kava-Bula. One thing we can take from this story is compassion and selfless deeds we ourselves can practice with other humans on this earth. A good deed will manifest and grow into a better understanding of a kinder world. Bula!


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