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Hula Facts

palm treesHAWAIIAN HISTORY

Makahiki Festival

The Makahiki season was the Hawaiian New Year, in honor of the god Lono.  It was a holiday covering four consecutive lunar months (approximately from October or November through February or March).  Religious ceremonies happened during this period.  The people stopped work, made offerings to the chief or ali'i, and then spent their time practicing sports, feasting, dancing and having a good time.  War during those four months was kapu (forbidden).  In the Hawaiian language, the word Makahiki means "year" as well as the change from harvest time to the beginning of the agricultural season.

The Makahiki festival was celebrated in three phases.  The first phase was a time of spiritual cleansing and making ho`okupu (offerings to the gods).  The Konohiki, a class of royalty that at this time of year provided the service of tax collector, collected agricultural and aquacultural products such as pigs, taro, sweet potatoes, dry fish, kapa and mats.  Some ho`okupu also were in the form of forest products such as feathers.  The Hawaiian people had no money or other similar medium of exchange.  These ho`okupu were offered on the altars of Lono at heiau (temples) in each district around the island.  Offerings also were made at the ahupua'a, stone altars set up at the boundary lines of each district.

All war was outlawed to allow unimpeded passage of the image of Lono.  The festival proceeded in a clockwise circle around the island as the image of Lono (or Akua Loa, a long pole with a strip of tapa and other embellishments attached) was carried by the priests.  At each ahu-pua`a, the chief of that district (a district also is

called ahupua`a) presented ho`okupu to the Lono image, a fertility god who caused things to grow and who gave plenty and prosperity to the islands.

The second phase, was a time of celebration, of hula dancing, of sports (boxing matches, sliding on sleds, surfing, canoe races, relays, and swimming), of singing and of feasting.

In the third phase, the wa`a `auhau (tax canoe) was loaded with ho`okupu and taken out to sea where it was set adrift as a gift to Lono.  At the end of the Makahiki festival, the chief would go off shore in a canoe.  When he came back in he stepped on shore and a group of warriors threw spears at him.  He had to deflect or parry the spears to prove his worthiness to continue to rule.

The sails and masts of Captain James Cook's ship resembled Lono's Akua Loa.  Captain Cook reached the Hawaiian Islands during the Makahiki season in 1778.  Because of this, some Hawaiians may at first have thought Captain Cook was the god Lono returning to the islands, as foretold in Hawaiian legends.

Jan and Dave BazaHula Facts come directly from our hula instructors, Jan and Dave Baza's newsletter. They have given us permission to post some of the fun information for you to browse. For more great information on Hawaii and the Art of Hula, contact Jan and Dave and join their mailing list!huladancers@c-zone.net

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