Hello Friends and Family,

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Lana‘i: Pineapple Festival, Part 3

Of course, no celebration in Hawai‘i would be complete without the hula. As you may know, the hula dates back to the early Polynesians who discovered these islands and evolved the dance from earlier forms found in the Marquesas and Tahiti. It is not the wild hip-swinging dance that you see on television or at a luau. The hula is a slower, swaying dance in which the motion of the dancer's hands represent the words of the mele (song) or oli (chant).

On the mainland, kids learn ballet or play organized sports such as baseball, basketball and football. In Hawai‘i, kids learn the hula — both boys and girls.

A hula school is called a hālau and the teacher is called the kumu. As the students progress in their study and practice of the hula, they often eventually begin to participate in hula competitions.

The most prestigious is the Merrie Monarch Festival held each spring in Hilo on the Big Island. It is so popular that it is televised in Hawai‘i so that residents can watch even if they cannot be there in person.

Some hulas are performed with implements such as the ‘uli ‘uli (feathered gourd rattles) seen here. In the background is a chanter who is using the ipu heke to provide a percussion accompaniment.

Watching these mature ladies dancing reminded me of one of the delights that I experienced during the year I lived on Maui — being entertained at a family get-together by friends dancing the hula. In most cases I had no idea that they were so talented.

During a break in the entertainment, I visited with my friend, Darlene, who help organize the Pineapple Festival. While we chatted, people came up say "aloha" to "Auntie Darlene". This young friend was so cute, I just had to take her picture.

There are only about 3,000 residents of this tiny island and everybody knows everybody. As a result most kids learn to address their parent's friends as "Auntie" and "Uncle". They also learn that they cannot get away with very much since everyone knows who they are.

One of the funny stories I was told on my first trip to Lana‘i was that the jail had not had any prisoners for so long that they store little league equipment there. The last time I asked, I was told it was still true.

The folks at the festival were so friendly (even though they knew I was not a resident) and quite willing to allow me to photograph them.

I loved this family — they looked so happy to be here even with the intermittent misty rain that we experienced.

Eventually I was accosted by a couple of warriors with menacing swords — which even flashed colored lights as they were swung. It is so cool how kids can travel half way around the world and engage with newfound friends. In fact, Johnny wants to go back to Lana‘i just to play with his new friend, Faith.

One of the booths was set up to provide face painting for the kids. There were so many painted faces wondering about.

I think my favorite painted face was this young Spiderman (or is it Spidergirl). Notice her brother in the background who had the same paint job. So cute.

To be continued...

Life is good.

B. David

P. S., All photos and text © B. David Cathell Photography, Inc. — www.bdavidcathell.com