News: Waimanalo Makahiki festival celebrates island heritage, change in seasons
Story by Cpl. Reece Lodder
BELLOWS AIR FORCE STATION, WAIMANALO, Hawaii — When ocean swells become larger and spells of rain more frequent, residents of Oahu know the rainy season is quickly approaching.
Those whose heritage lies in the islands know the change means more than better surf or another rainy day. It hints toward the shift from the harvest months to the agricultural season, known as the Makahiki.
Recently marked by the simultaneous rising of the Makaliki (Pleiades) constellation in the east and the setting of the sun in the west, the Makahiki season began. In honor of the season’s rich heritage, locals and service members gathered at Bellows Air Force Station to celebrate the first Waimanalo Makahiki festival, Nov. 20, 2010.
From October until February, the Makahiki season honors the Hawaiian god Lono, the guardian of peace and health, as he arrives for the transition from Ku, a time of war, politics and construction, to Lono, a time of relaxation and celebration of life.
“Between our military ohana [family], schools, civic organizations and local community, Lono is facilitating a positive interaction in all of us,” said Kahu Shad Kane, a cultural practitioner with the Oahu Council of Hawaiian Civic Clubs.
In centuries past, Makahiki facilitated an interaction between recent settlers and those already living there, Kane said.
The time of peace allowed for communication between chiefs, fishermen and farmers from all around the islands. It gave them time to reflect on what they had and to be grateful for it, said Kuulei Laughlin, president, Hawaiian Civic Club of Waimanalo.
After Lono arrived by way of huakai, the ceremonial pu, or conch shells, were sounded to begin the ceremonial procession. Kalama Cabigon offered the pule wehe, or opening prayer, followed by the Royal Order of Kamehameha procession and the hookupu protocol presentation.
“Makahiki is a tradition passed down from our ancestors to us,” said Councilman Ikaika Anderson, Honolulu Council District 3. “And now we have the opportunity to pass it on to our keiki [children].”
Kane shared a brief history of Makahiki and the games began. Children delved into their culture by participating in a variety of Hawaiian exhibition and competition games including spear throwing and stone disk rolling. Visitors enjoyed the spread of a traditional paina, or feast.
“We’re focusing on the keiki because the purpose of having the Makahiki was to show and teach them about their heritage,” Laughlin said. “It was my dream to have a Makahiki in Waimanalo, and I’m so honored to have the Marines and Air Force participate in it.”