Someone asked me if my recent blog posts about Pele (Honoring Pele) and Laka (Saving Hawaiian Traditions) go against Christianity’s teachings of worshipping only one God. The question surprised me into a self-dialog that left me with a satisfactory answer.
At first my quest to learn more about the Hawaiian culture was one of respect for the rich history here, a cultural anthropology exploration. I read much before and since I moved here, both fiction and non-fiction to learn as much as I could from books. But just as with anything else, until I actually do it, I don’t really know it. So now I’m going beyond books.
Now I’m practicing (practicing as in learning) some of the aspects of Hawaiian culture, like hula, chanting, lei-making, and bits of the language. I see it as respect for the people who live here and respect for the ways the early Hawaiians understood nature and explained the world around them. Naming those natural processes and explaining the world through stories made it personal to them, and now to me.
The Hawaiian word for lava is pele. Pele, the Goddess, is the spirit of the movement and flow of lava, the birthing of new land. So if I make an offering of a ti-leaf lei to her when I visit Volcanoes National Parks, am I worshiping her? No, I am honoring the beliefs of the people who settled here long before me and honoring the powerful way our own mother earth creates new land.
It doesn’t mean I can become Hawaiian and it doesn’t mean I reject my Christian upbringing. It’s a personal choice of inclusion. I choose to relish the culture that surrounds me, whether that’s mindfulness meditation with the Buddhist Hongwanji Mission on Sunday evenings, hula and chanting in my Hawaiian Culture Class, or church services. They are all connected; we are all connected.
In Gassho, Aloha and Amen.
For other essays about Diane’s Hawaiian Hula Class see:
Saving Hawaiian traditions – Kalopa State Park
Prepping for our Hoike – No time to let my J droop
My Hawaiian Culture class is pau
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Beautiful explanation… mahalo!
Thank you Malia. And thank you for leaving so many comments on my posts. It’s nice to know when I’ve struck a chord or made a connection for someone else.
Great explanation of the difference between worshipping and honoring. I’ll file that for future use as a tutor, as my learner may have difficulty grasping those concepts. Mahalo.
Thank you. And good idea. I know you’ll be a great tutor.
Thank you, Rebecca.
Be careful when you say “just” cultural anthropology!
Sorry, Barbara, if I offended you but I’m hoping there’s an invisible smiley face after your exclamation mark. I was trying to convey that my learning and understanding was no longer just book learning. Maybe that’s what I should have titled the piece. 😉
A couple of the traits that you display regularly and that I love about you, Diane is your curiosity and open mindedness. Your explanation of Honoring and Inclusion is Spot On!
Keep On Keeping On !
Thank you Dianne. I so appreciate your friendship.
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