VIDEO: Ahu La’i, Hawaiian Rain Cape
By Wendy Osher
[flashvideo file=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=–OpWl2SfbQ /] The Merrie Monarch Festival, commonly characterized as the “Hula Olympics”, goes beyond what takes place on the actual stage. Throughout the community, there are native art shows, hula workshops, and cultural activities at both the ‘Imiloa Astronomy Center and the Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park.
Early one morning at the Kilauea volcano, hula dancers are seen ascending the flanks of the burnt forest to take offerings or ho’okupu to the goddess Pele. The gesture is one of symbolic reverence and respect for the volcano goddess.
On this particular weekend, the visit was accompanied by demonstrations, entertainment, and informational displays created by park rangers and cultural practitioners. Park Ranger, Jason Zimmer speaks with us about the Ahu La’i or ti leaf rain cape. It was used not only to protect people from the rain, but fishermen from the elements at sea, and residents from the sun in hotter parts of the islands. Zimmer said he learned the craft from his grandfather who is from Hana, Maui.