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CULTURAL
SYMBOLS


THE KUMULIPO: THE HAWAIIAN CREATION CHANT
(How the Hawaiians approach the environment)

The Kumulipo (the source of life) is an ancient Hawaiian mele oli, or chant, consisting of 2,077 lines traditionally chanted by one person over six hours.

The chant reflects sophisticated theories about the origins of the cosmos and life on this planet - providing a concept of world order, reminding everyone about the core relationship people have with earth and how to live harmoniously.

The Kumulipo illustrates the deep and enduring differences between western and traditional Hawaiian ways of relating to and respecting the environment.

Hawaiians, like many indigenous peoples, approach the environment from a totally different posture. Instead of beginning with a relationship of domination over the environment, indigenous peoples have approached the environment from a position of reverence, of equality, of respect and even worship.

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Ukulele
The genealogy is said to have been composed about 1700. Most Hawaiian families still trace their lineage to the chant. The information is passed down through the generations.

The first part is a literal story of the development of natural forms on the earth. The latter half of the chant gives the genealogical history of the Hawaiian line of chiefs.

The most important ancestor for all Hawaiians is the land itself. Legend names the first Hawaiian as the kalo (taro) plant. Therefore, as the Hawaiian progenitor, it is every Hawaiian's obligation to care for the land.

As Pualani Kanahele so eloquently writes in the foreword of the book Kumulipo: Creation Myth by Aunty Sylvia Krewson-Reck:

(To Hawaiians) "the Kumulipo is the reality of our dim past,
the foundation of our present and the pathway into the future."

ALOHA AINA

Aloha aina means love of the land. It is the profound respect we have for Hawaii and the care we take to protect our Islands.

Aina means that the land is the source of our food. In that sense, then, the land is what gives us sustenance; it is Hawaii that sustains us. We who live in the Islands walk upon its earth, breathe its air, drink its water, and eat the food it provides. Hawaii is within us, a part of us. If we defile Hawaii, it is as if we defile ourselves.

Aloha Aina is shared with visitors so they, too, will respect Hawaii and treat the islands with care.
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Taro Fields, Kauai

THE MEANING OF ALOHA

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Hula


 
The Aloha Spirit is the coordination of mind and heart within each person. It brings each person to the Self. Each person must think and emote good feelings to others. In the contemplation and presence of the life force, Aloha, the following unuhi laula loa (free translation) may be used:

  • Akahai, meaning kindness to be expressed with tenderness;
  • Lokahi, meaning unity, to be expressed with harmony;
  • Oluolu, meaning agreeable, to be expressed with pleasantness;
  • Haahaa, meaning humility, to be expressed with modesty;
  • Ahonui, meaning patience, to be expressed with perseverance.

These are traits of character that express the charm, warmth and sincerity of Hawaii's people. It was the working philosophy of native Hawaiians and was presented as a gift to the people of Hawaii.

  • Aloha is more than a word of greeting or farewell or a salutation.
  • Aloha means mutual regard and affection and extends warmth in caring with no obligation in return.
  • Aloha is the essence of relationships in which each person is important to every other person for collective existence.
  • Aloha means to hear what is not said, to see what cannot be seen and to know the unknowable.

 

Source: Hawaii Revised Statutes, § 5-7.5

The ancient Hawaiians worshipped nature. They saw its forces manifested in a multiplicity of forms to which they ascribed godlike powers. Daily life was based on this animistic philosophy. Any object, animate or inanimate, could be a god.

In today's world, God is a brand name. Christ is considered to be the true path to heaven, Allah is praised, the Torah is chanted, and nirvana is available at Hindu temples.

To the Hawaiians:
God is love. God is aloha.

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