Hawaiians mark these traditions to honor by reflecting how the lava flows from Mauna Loa

When Willette Kalaokahaku Akima-Akau gazes at the lava flowing from the Mauna Loa volcano and makes an offering of gin, tobacco and coins, she will be taking part in a tradition handed down from her grandfather and other Native Hawaiians as a way to it honors both the natural and the spiritual world.

Akima-Akau said she plans to take her grandchildren with her, and together they will make offerings and sing to Pele, the Hawaiian deity of volcanoes and fire, whom her grandfather worshiped as a kupuna, a word that can mean ancestor. .

“This is the time for our kupuna, for our people and for our children to come and witness what is happening as history is made every day,” she said, adding that today’s experiences will add stories and songs of the next generation. , dances and songs.

For many native Hawaiians, an eruption of a volcano like Mauna Loa has deep cultural but very personal significance. For many it can be an opportunity to feel a connection to creation itself through the way lava gives birth to a new earth, as well as a time to reflect on one’s place in the world and the people who came before them.

“A volcanic eruption is a physical manifestation of so many natural and spiritual forces for Hawaiians,” said Hawaii Tourism Authority spokeswoman Ilihia Gionson, who is a native Hawaiian and lives on the Big Island. “People who aren’t familiar with it should understand that it’s a very personal, very meaningful thing.”

Certainly, not all native Hawaiians will feel the need to make a trip to see the lava, but among those who do, some may sing, some may pray to the ancestors, and some may honor the moment with hula or dance.

“Some people might be moved to silently observe, meditate, you know, communicate with their higher power or kupuna in their own way,” Gionson said.

Kainani Kahaunaele said as a native Hawaiian, she is moved to honor the moment and will take her children, nieces, nephews and close friends as close to the lava flow as possible. There they will sing to Pele.

“Our hookup will be our voice,” she said, using the Hawaiian word for offering. “It’s not for any kind of show. It’s a connection we make to Pele, to the earth, to Mauna Loa.”

Many Hawaiians practice family traditions that have been passed down from elders.

Akima-Akau, who lives in Kawaihae on the west side of the Big Island, remembers hearing stories of her grandfather flying in from Maui or Oahu whenever there was a Big Island lava flow to honor Pele .

“He would jump on a plane and come to the island of Hawaii to hookup,” she said, offering gin, silver dollars and tobacco.

Her grandfather died before she was born, so he doesn’t know exactly why he chose those items, but he wasn’t alone. She said she grew up knowing others who offered the same items, so that will bring her family. She said the children would give Pele a ti leaf lei.

Hawaiians have different relationships with lava spirituality, said Native Hawaiian cultural practitioner Kealoha Pisciotta. For Pisciotta, lava “brings good mana”—which can mean supernatural or divine power—”and cleanses where it needs cleansing.”

There are also various relationships and connections with Pele, whom some call a god or goddess. Pele holds great significance in Hawaiian culture, representing all phenomena related to volcanoes—magma, steam, ash, acid rain.

“Her primary form is lava, not necessarily a human, female person. But the image of her function is creation, which happens to be a very feminine image,” said Kekuhi Kealiʻikanakaʻole, a cultural practitioner in Hilo.

Pisciotta calls her “Tutu Pele”, using the word for grandfather, because the deities “are older than us”.

Manua Loa’s spectacular spectacle attracts thousands of people seeking nighttime views of the lava flowing down the mountain’s northeast flank, blocking the main east-west road on the island. Among them are those who come to pay their respects, leaving shrines or altars along the way.

The slow-moving lava flow was about 2.7 miles from the road Friday, US Geological Survey scientists said.

Cultural practitioners like Pisciotta want lava-watchers to be wary of those who chant, pray or gather in ceremony amid the eruption: “Give them some space and respect.”

“If a person doing something wants to invite someone to participate or watch, there will be an invitation,” said Gionson, the tourism official. “And if not, respect that and keep a respectful distance.”

So far, the tourism authority has not received any complaints about people tripping over cultural practices, he said, adding that the agency is focusing on educating tourists in general about respect and proper behavior when visiting the islands.

Kahaunaele, who teaches Hawaiian language and music at the University of Hawaii’s Hilo campus and planned to gather with her family Thursday night, knows visitors to the island might be curious to see and hear her family perform.

“Don’t film us. Don’t even ask for permission, just don’t,” she said. “That goes even for the locals. Don’t infringe on anyone else’s time.”

This story was published from a television agency feed with no text changes. Only the title has been changed.

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