Cultural Festival Celebrates Pele

Artist rendering of Pele, volcanoes, and lehua blossoms
Artist's rendering of Pele amidst volcanoes and lehua blossoms

Dietrich Varez

E ho`omau i ka po`ohala, carry on the virtues, arts, and skills of the family at Hawai`i Volcanoes' 29th Annual Cultural Festival.

Set for Saturday, July 11, 2009, from 10:00 am to 3:00 pm, the event will be held on the lawn fronting Kilauea Military Camp on Crater Rim Drive. The festival and park entrance are free.

This year's theme is E Ola ka Wahine o Halema`uma`u, Pele lives. For many Native Hawaiians, Halema`uma`u crater is the sacred home of Pele, deity of volcanoes.

Located at the summit of Kilauea volcano, just two miles from the festival grounds, Halema`uma`u has been in eruption since March 2008. An eruption on the volcano’s east rift has been ongoing since January 1983.

At 10:00 am, the echo of the pu (shell trumpet) and a heartfelt pule (Hawaiian prayer) will remind us that the culture of Hawai`i is very much alive.

Throughout the day, the sweet sounds of Hawaiian music fill the air and hula dancers, bedecked in flower lei and colorful mu`umu`u, bring meaning to the songs through the movement of their eyes, hands, and hips.

Hula dancers

Enjoy hula by Haunani’s Aloha Expression and music by The Kuahiwi’s, Diana Aki, Kenneth Makuakane, and David Ka`io.

KAPA radio’s Jaz Yglesias will emcee the day’s happenings.

Join in and make a lei, feather kahili, Hawaiian quilt, wood fishhook, gourd for hula, and kukui nut top. You can weave a coconut basket and lauhala bracelet, play the ukulele and Hawaiian games, learn basic Hawaiian language, and trace your family genealogy.

Watch skilled practitioners demonstrate how to fish, throw net, build canoe, craft drums, do lomilomi massage, beat kapa, carve wood, use plants as medicine, stamp with bamboo, make a lauhala hat and feather lei, create a native plant garden, and plant dryland taro.

Participants will be able to taste traditional foods such as kalua pig, taro, sweet potato, poi, sugar cane, and breadfruit.

Locally made Hawaiian crafts, Hawaiian plate lunch, and special edition festival t-shirts will be available for purchase.

Festivalgoers should wear sunscreen and a hat, and bring water, a rainjacket, and beach chair or ground mat to sit on. Weather at Kilauea’s summit can be hot and sunny or cool and misty. Pets are not allowed.

Cultural practitioners

Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park was established on August 1, 1916, as a public park for the enjoyment of the people. An important purpose of the 333,086 acre park is to perpetuate Hawaiian culture and promote appreciation of traditional values.

Since 1980, the festival has epitomized the true spirit of `ohana (family), providing the ideal occasion for kupuna (elder) and keiki (child), and kama`aina (native born) and malihini (newcomer) to come together for a day of fun and sharing.

The festival was originally held beneath the swaying palm fronds of the park’s coastal campground, but when Pele's lava overran the area in 1992, the festival moved to Kilauea’s summit. The celebration continues on July 11th beneath red-blossomed `ohi`a on the rim of one of earth’s most active volcanoes.

The event is cosponsored by the County of Hawai`i Department of Research and Development, Hawai`i Tourism Authority, Hawai`i Natural History Association, Friends of Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park, Kilauea Military Camp, and Ukes for Kids.

Last updated: March 31, 2012

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