It’s April in Hawaii. That means one thing. Merrie Monarch Festival.
This is a picture of Luana Maitland. She is a Hawaiian cultural advisor at Outrigger Reef on the Beach. She is wearing a haku lei, or a lei that is made from braiding or plaiting, in this case, from many different plant materials. The haku lei is traditionally worn on your head, around your wrist or, even, around your ankles.
I expect to see all kind of lei in the next few days, as I am headed to Hilo to experience Merrie Monarch Festival—the world-renowned hula competition that honors King David Kalakaua and all things hula.
Let’s talk hula. I recently wrote this feature story on hula. It reads:
Hula is a uniquely Hawaiian dance performed with oli (chant) and mele (song) to convey the many stories and traditions of the Hawaiian people. These stories might be light-hearted. They might be sensual. They may evoke a spiritual or worshipful essence. They may be told with breakneck speed or at a hypnotic pace.
King David Kalakaua, credited with reviving hula in the late 19th century said, “Hula is the language of the heart, therefore the heartbeat of the Hawaiian people.”
But that heartbeat almost died out in the mid 19th century with the arrival of Christian missionaries.
“When they saw the hula being performed, they thought that what we were doing gave off the wrong kind of influence that they saw as being sinful,” says Blaine Kamalani Kia, a teacher of hula and president of Ka Laua’e Foundation. “We didn’t see it as distasteful. We saw it as a way of celebrating life. So we ended up
practicing the hula in hideaways and caves.”
Click here to continue reading about Hawaii’s unique dance, hula.
I’ll be writing more about hula in the next few days and sharing it with you here.
If you’d like to witness a bit of hula from the comfort of your chair at home, you can do so in two ways:
1) In Hawaii, watch live on KFVE on channel 5 on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights starting at 6:00 p.m. HST.
2) Elsewhere, watch the KFVE livestream feed here: http://www.k5thehometeam.com/category/201839/live
And if you've attended Merrie Monarch before, share your experiences with the rest of us below.