Restored Kahili Returned to Bishop Museum: A lesson to uphold tradition.

Preparing to enter the building
Preparing to enter the building

Restored kahili were returned to the Bishop Museum’s renovated Hawaiian Hall last night (August 5th), in ancient ceremony. The rituals began at dusk, one of four hours of the day kahili are traditionally allowed to be moved. Chants were done to ask permission to enter Pauahi’s building, then proceeded into the main hall as chants continued describing the kahili and also giving them their names, one male, and other female. The procession then continued directly to the 3rd floor where the kahili were placed flanking Liloa’s sash, one of the most sacred and honored artifacts of Hawaiian history.

So what does this have to do with Okinawan culture? As many heard and experienced at Ukwanshin’s last gakumun kai, in any culture, there is the foundation and traditions that are part of a people, which makes up their identity. This ceremony was of an ancient rite form a time past. However, it succeeded in connecting the past and the present through the language, protocol, and ceremony. For a time,…time stood still and we were connected with the kupuna or elders and protectors of the culture from the past. The kahili was restored in the traditional manner. The chants and ritual followed protocol set up by the people of old. What was awesome was that people living in this time were presenting it. Like our eisaa, obon, rituals for New Year, Shii Mi, dances, music etc, we have that connection through the traditions that come with it. They all have a sort of life and breath to them,

Kahili I was priviledged to restore and gave me a better understanding of continued tradition
Kahili I was priviledged to restore and gave me a better understanding of continued tradition

unlike the shallow or empty fluff and commercialism of new things that do not connect or honor the ancestors. Our obligation is to connect again. The exhibit in Hawaiian Hall has a life of its own, and we as Okinawans, or children of LooChoo should be able to connect to them if we are grounded in our identity. You can see it especially in the lunar calendar exhibit that has so much resemblance to Okinawan observances during certain phases of the moon. The fishing, care of the land, old dwellings. For those who haven’t been in a while, you will feel a change. The heavy dark feeling of the hall is now gone, and if you open yourself up without any preconceptions, you will be able to learn and help yourself to understand our own culture and identity through Hawaiian Hall.