FIJIAN people living in the United States and Hawaii gathered at Morton Field, Mare Island in California to celebrate Fiji's 42nd year of independence.
Thousands of miles away from their beloved homeland, these proud Fijians converged to mark one of the most significant events in Fiji's history as a sea of colours filled the small rugby paddock.
Hosted by the Tailevu province living in the US, chief guest, Adi Litia Cakobau, who is the granddaughter of the late high chief, Ratu Seru Cakobau that ceded Fiji to Great Britain, commended the Fijian community for coming out in big numbers to celebrate the grand occasion.
Adi Litia said the event symbolised peace and togetherness for the Fijian people, and it was important for those Fijians living in the US to work together for a good and worthy cause.
"I urge all you Fijians here in the US and in Hawaii, to work together for the benefit of our beloved ones back home," she said.
"This occasion is precious to all Fijians marking the 42nd independence of our country and we should stand our ground, hold hands and work together for the betterment of all.
"Even though we are far from home, this celebration indicates that we still hold Fiji dear to our hearts.
"We are proud of our identity as Fijians and we will continue to safeguard and protect our traditional customs which is our identity."
Adi Litia said the three-day celebration would also serve as a fundraising drive to set up a scholarship fund for the underprivileged students of Tailevu back home.
"This scholarship scheme is our token of thanks to our people back home — we want to give something back to our people."
The US Fiji Times newspaper publisher Rocky Ali Buksh said the event was unique marking a special day for all Fijians.
"It is good for the Fijian community to get together and for our children to learn about our roots," said Mr Buksh.
"It is also a way for all Fijians here in the US and Hawaii to meet and know each other and to also taste the Fiji delicacies."
Food stalls, entertainment, rugby, volleyball and netball were organised for the event, which continues today.