Iune (June) Word of the Month: “Hula”
One of most beautiful and personal form of Hawaiian expression is the Hula. In Hawaiian Culture, the hula is more than just a dance. From a young age, I was taught that hula is a way to perpetuate the Hawaiian Culture. Under the surface is a cultural system that celebrates creation, cherished family treasures, ancestral beings, and natural manifestations of life forces that nurtures and sustains the Hawaiian people.
Referring back to May’s Hawaiian word of the month “Aloha”, hula is also a way of life and has a similar meaning as well.
“Be in unity and harmony with your real self and mankind. Be honest, truthful, patient, kind to all forms, and humble”
With years of study, I’ve learnt hula is a ha’aha’a, humbling, experience. No matter if it’s a kupuna (elder), professor, or kumu hula (hula teacher), they all hope for their haumāna (students) or ‘ohana (family) to instill more knowledge they can acquire. Hula is carefully maintained, presented, and passed on from generation to the next.
In the early 1800’s, protestant missionaries banned hula. They felt it was a pagan ritual dance with sinful movements. Hula survived because adherents maintained it underground, out of the sphere of missionary censor and suppression. It was the reigning of Hawaii’s last king, David Kalākaua, who restored the hula in the late 1800’s. He is the creator of the Merrie Monarch Hula Festival which is held once a year in Hilo on the Big Island of Hawaii. The Merrie Monarch is a non-profit organization with a week long of festivities. The legacy left by King Kalākaua continues to perpetuate our traditions, native language, and the arts. He proclaimed, “Hula is the language of the heart, therefore the heartbeat of the Hawaiian people”.