Kumu Hula Across Hawaiʻi Join in Kapu to Contain Spread of COVID-19

August 22, 2020, 11:38 AM HST · Updated August 23, 8:34 AM
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In response to a sharp increase in COVID-19 cases affecting the Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander community, a hui of Kumu Hula from across the islands agreed to a 30-day Lāhui Kānaka to help stop the spread of the coronavirus.

Lāhui Kānaka is a kapu that began on Aug. 16 with the rising of the Mauli moon and will continue for three anahulu (or 10 day periods) until the next Mauli moon on Sept. 14, 2020.

It represents a gathering of intentions focused on mauli ola, health and wellbeing to stop the spread of COVID-19 in Hawaiʻi.

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The focus during this time is on wellbeing and the kumu and their haumāna (students) have committed to modifying their personal behaviors such as staying home, limiting gatherings, wearing masks when they must interact, ʻai pono (eating healthy), and pule (prayer) everyday at noon.

“We no longer can rely on anyone else to help us control the spread in our communities,” said one of the organizers Kumu Hula Mehanaokala Hind. She went further to explain “we need to look to our culture to help us get through this.”

To make it through this pandemic healthy and whole, organizers believe that aloha must be shown for one-another in different ways because the customary greeting of a honi and hug can unintentionally spread COVID-19 to beloved family. “This is especially dangerous to our kūpuna who, overall, have been more severely impacted by the disease,” said Hind.

Organizers say the period of kapu will require discipline and focus, but are encouraging their haumāna and others who choose to join them to use the time to focus on the wellbeing of themselves and their ʻohana.

“The hope is that, at the end of three anahulu, the community will see a decrease in the daily COVID-19 infection count, and an increase in pono and akamai behaviors within the lāhui and the larger community,” said Hind.

“For whatever anyone thinks about COVID-19 and the coronavirus, there’s one thing we know, as people of Hiʻiaka, as people of Laka, as people that come from this strong tradition of hula, we know that the end of three anahulu–if we focus on wellbeing, we will be better than we were 30 days before that.  We know that if we concentrate on our wellbeing, and if we have our little communities, our microcosms of the nation within our hālau–if we have them focusing on that–that we will all be better… better for our families, better for our communities, and we will get through this together,” said Hind.

“It is time that we look to our culture for the response and the solutions that we need.  It is time to look to our culture for that.  No longer can we rely on others to help inform that.  We don’t need to.  We have the ike (knowledge) that we need within our cultural practice to be able to do this,” she said.

Maui Kumu Hula, Kumu Hula Hōkūlani Holt-Padilla of Pā‘ū O Hi‘iaka said: “Lāhui Kānaka is a kapu mauliola.  A kapu is a code of behavior to maintain balance–how we should or should not act.  It is based on our relationship to our Akua, our Aina and our fellow kanaka.  This kapu mauliola has do’s as well as don’t’s.”

According to Holt-Padilla, do’s include eating healthy foods, praying daily, thinking of the well being of others, letting the Aina rest by not impacting it adversely.  “These help us to remember that we as kanaka impact and can impact other ways and other people,” she said.

The don’t’s are meant to seek an overall desire for mauli ola or well being.  “Don’t gather with those outside of your immediate household, don’t forget to wear your facemask outside of your home and car, don’t touch your face,” said Holt-Padilla.  “This is for the health and wellbeing of our hula community and therefore their families.  We can discipline ourselves and our households because the health and wellbeing of the kanaka and ‘āina is what we are striving for.”

Fellow kudu, Hinaleimoana Wong Kalu said, “This bit of sharing also invokes our understanding of the word mauli.  When we say mauliola here in Hawaii, we are invoking not only our known diety of health, but we also invoke the essence–in the word mauli we have the essence of life, the seed of life, the very spark of life.  And in ola, that is our word for life itself”

*Video clip courtesy: Kanaeokana.

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