Moloka`i: Birthplace of Hula

Each year, we can hardly wait for the Ka Hula Piko festival on Moloka`i. This celebration commemorates the birth of hula at the sacred site Pu`u Nana. According to Hawai`ian history, the goddess Laka first danced the hula here; then traveled to the other islands teaching her graceful dance.

Hula is performed as a cultural sharing, a gift, and a prayer in this free outdoor festival. Begun by the late Kumu Hula, John Kaimikaua, the tradition is carried on by his Halau Kukuna O Ka La. Halau (hula schools or groups) from other islands join them and  our Moloka`i halau to educate and entertain. It is definitely what we call a “chicken skin” experience to watch these dancers. Here are just a few photos of the all day ho`olaulea. All I can say is, so lucky we live (or for some,  get to visit) Moloka`i.

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Moloka`i Is A Big Hana

West End Molokai From the Air © lynette sheppard

West End Molokai From the Air © lynette sheppard

My husband, Dewitt, and I were frequent visitors to Maui a couple of decades ago. We were addicted to windsurfing, particularly in the glorious waters of the Hawai`ian islands. Though we had also visited Oahu, Kaua`i and Hawai`i island, we never seriously thought about living in the 50th state.

As luck would have it, our friends Rik and Bronwyn Cooke, invited us to their home on Moloka`i. After a week of sailing and sunburn, we made our way to the tiny commuter terminal at Maui’s Kahului airport. A big, smiling Hawai`ian man tagged our bags and weighed us preparatory for boarding the little Twin Otter prop plane.

“You ever been to Moloka`i?” he asked.

“No,” I answered. “This is my first time.”

He thought for a moment, then asked “Have you ever been to Hana?”

“Oh yes. I LOVE Hana!” I exclaimed, remembering the slow pace of the tiny rural village at the literal end of the road in Maui.

“Then you’re going to the right place. Moloka`i is a big Hana.” he beamed.

Lei Hali`a: Flowers of Memory

Lei Hali`a © lynette sheppard

Lei Hali`a © lynette sheppard

I think of each remembered Moloka`i moment as a pua, a flower. These snapshots of Moloka`i life and lore are strung together in my heart to form a perfect lei. Like a lei, there is no specific beginning or end. It is a circle of memories. They exist in Moloka`i time; non-linear, connected, and precious –  like  flowers in a lei.

This blog is not a travelogue nor a history lesson nor even a treatise on culture. It is a collection of personal experiences and observations  resulting from my love affair with the island I am blessed to call my home. Moloka`i nui a Hina. (Moloka`i, Great Child of Hina, Goddess of the Moon.)