Monday, November 2, 2009

Makahiki: A Time of Thanksgiving

November is a month of celebrations. Around the world people are gathering together to acknowledge and share an abundance of crops and good will. Here's what's happening on the Hawaiian Islands:

The ancient God Lono is honored on November 7 with a Makahiki Festival.

The word "Makahiki" in Hawaiian means "year." In ancient Hawaii the year was calculated by the rising of the seven stars we know as the Pleiades. The Makahiki period started on the night of the first new moon after the Pleiades appeared on the eastern horizon while the sun was setting in the west. This took place around mid-November and lasted about four months. Throughout the islands it was a time of peace, thanksgiving, sharing and preparation for the new year. It was a time filled with games and contests, dancing and feasting.

Many religious ceremonies happened during this period. The people stopped work, made offerings to the chief or aliʻi, and then spent their time practicing sports, feasting, dancing and having a good time. War during those four months was kapu (forbidden).

In Hawaiian mythology, Lono is a fertility and music god who descended to Earth on a rainbow to marry Laka. In agricultural and planting traditions, Lono was identified with rain and food plants. He was one of the four gods (with Kū, Kāne, and his twin brother Kanaloa) who existed before the world was created. Lono was also the god of peace. In his honor, the great annual festival of the Makahiki was held.

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