DINING HAWAIIAN STYLE AT MAUI'S LAHAINA LUAU
On a star spangled night in Maui we dined Hawaiian-style on lauhala mats. By the light of the
moon and flickering candles we enjoyed a traditional feast – Kalua
pig cooked in an imu (underground oven), Pulehu steak, Island Crab
salad, Pohole salad, baked mahimihi, lomi lomi salmon and poi –
served by brawny young men in flowered skirts.
the feast we were to see an amazing display of hula with accompanying
oli (chant) and mele (song). Using eyes, hand and hips in a symphony
of sensuality it was easy to understand why the island women had
proved irresistibly intoxicating to the sailors of long ago.
there is more to the hula than the undeniable sensuality of its
movements. That night at the luau we were to see the spiritual dance
that rests at the very heart of the Hawaiian culture. Once performed
as an act of worship for their many gods and goddesses, hula is also
used for story telling in the oral tradition of the Hawaiians. In
the past the dance with its religious affiliation was performed to
honor significant events in the life of a chief; his birth, his
naming, and finally to celebrate his life at death.
On a raised
grassy platform beneath a full moon, dancers, dressed in Ti leaf
skirts, coconut breast covers with flowers in their hair and necks
encircled with orchid and frangipani leis, cast a spell over us all
with their interpretation of the traditional hula.
were to see hula in all its variety; the sacred and traditional
version, its modern day counterpart, as well as that more constrained
hula adopted to appease the sensitivities of the missionaries. To me
it seemed as if the dancers were smiling inwardly as they swayed onto
the raised grassy platform in long non-revealing dresses, their
movements decidedly prim.
the missionaries really think they had finally curbed the exuberant
passions of the Hawaiians when they first witnessed this unexpectedly
Photos copyright Anne Gordon
Posted on Sunday 8th July, 2012