Hawaii's Graveyards Reveal Blending Traditions

May 31, 2004

Source: The Honolulu Advertiser


On May 31, 2004 The Honolulu Advertiser reported, "Nanette Napoleon has seen the strangest things left as graveyard memorabilia, or what she calls 'visitation goods.' We're not talking about people bringing lei, flowers or photos to their family's graves. We're not even talking oranges or tangerines, cans of beer, bottles of soda, incense, cups of tea, chopsticks — all things Hawai'i's Eastern religions regularly leave to feed their ancestors' hungry ghosts. Think out of the box — much farther out. Think a deck of cards, candles, bottles of sake or Jim Beam, crocheted crafts or handmade jewelry... On Memorial Day, we ritualistically mourn our dearly departed and make visits to their graves. But it's also a day that highlights Hawai'i's blend of customs and celebrates the religious distinctions that each culture brings to the vast banquet table: a little dish of Buddhism here, a spot of Taoism there, with some Christianity on the side."