The Sacred And the Profound: A Kaua‘i Kumu Hula Dances to Defend Wailua

August 4, 2010

Author: Joan Conrow

Source: The Honolulu Weekly

There was a period, last November, when unremitting lightning brought day to the night skies over windward Kauai, as thunder boomed, cracked and rolled. Brisk winds swept in rains so heavy and insistent that streets ponded, mud slid and streams rose, flooding buildings, forcing evacuations, closing bridges and breaking water lines. When it was over, Mayor Bernard Carvalho surveyed the damage and issued a disaster proclamation.

The dramatic display by the elements coincided–though Kumu Hula Kehaulani Kekua would say it was no coincidence — with an aha hoano, a sacred ceremony, that she and other cultural practitioners were engaged in at the mouth of the Wailua River, whose source is Waialeale, the wettest spot on Earth. Every hour on the hour, from noon on Nov. 13, 2009, to noon the following day, they carried out a set practice of protocol with the intent, Kekua said, of “petitioning the natural world, the ancestors, the guardians, the gods, who are still much alive and real. When you recognize that, and make that connection, profound things happen.”