Think of Hawaii and so many wonderful images come to mind, from the various islands and their respective, vast beauty, stunning beaches, tall mountains, surfing, abundant marine life, volcanoes, and ultimately, the hula as well. While visitors can enjoy watching hula dancers on all of the islands, the big island of Hawaii is most notable.
Indeed, on the Big island, the most well-known and world’s largest hula competition takes place every year called “The Merrie Monarch Festival”. It is held in downtown Hilo and generally falls after Easter Sunday, sometime between March and April.
Tickets are available to watch the Hula competitions. Additionally, the festival offers a variety of complimentary events that are open to the public, such as local artists and entertainment, as well as an exhibition night of hula and folk dancing from around the Pacific.
The festival is named after King David Kalakaua, the island’s last king who was responsible for reviving the hula in the late 1800s after decades of being banned and eventually censored by Christian missionaries who found the dance too suggestive and vulgar.
King David Kalakaua was referred to as the “Merrie Monarch” due to his fun-loving ways and love of the island’s music, dance and festivals. He is responsible for re-establishing many of the traditions that had been suppressed by the missionaries. Indeed, he reaffirmed pride in the local culture to include such things as mythology, medicine and the hula and encouraged the recording of Hawaiian oral traditions. He is credited with much of the preservation of the language and culture of the islands.
The Merrie Monarch Festival began in 1963 and has remained committed to preserving the islands’ Hawaiian culture. It’s a week-long festival that showcases a variety of arts from the islands as well as its three-day hula competition. Indeed, the festival has been recognized throughout the word for its rich, historical and cultural significance. It provides a platform for dancers to display their skills of the hula dance.
While the ancient Hawaiians did not posses any written language, the chants and hula dance preserved the people’s history, mythology and religion. The dance and ceremony illustrated the rich cultural heritage that was passed down through the generations. Central to the dance is the deep appreciation of the balance between the people, their environment and their spirituality.
Interestingly, all hula dances originated from a series of only six original moves. While there is a wide variety of interpretations of the original movements, they all suggest grace, beauty and balance. Every movement, expression and gesture in the hula has a specific meaning and there is a deep sense of ritual.
The dance is taught by hula teachers, referred to as kumu hula, and at hula schools, called hula halau. Many hula halau visit the rim of the island’s Halemaurma Crater to honor the volcanic goddess, Pele. The Hawaiian goddess, Laka, is also frequently referred to in hula dancing. She was the goddess of love, plants and trees and is widely acknowledged as the patron of hula. Flower leis were placed on an alter of Laka as an offering.
Currently, there are two types of hula dancing performed. One is the Hula Kahiko, or ancient hula, and the other is Auana, or modern interpretation of the hula.
Travel Keys offers a wonderful collection of villas for vacation on the Big Island of Hawaii. Renting a private home is the ideal way to experience the island either with friends, family or as a romantic setting for just two.
Appropriately named is the exceptional Hula Hula Ranch, a spacious and beautiful home with well-furnished interiors and exceptional outdoor amenities to include a wonderful verandah overlooking the private pool and ocean beyond. Hula Hula Ranch has six bedroom suites and magnificent ocean views.
In keeping with the hula theme, Home of the Hula Moon is another splendid villa set at the edge of the sea where stunning sunsets may be enjoyed while enjoying a Mai Tai. The home is decorated in soothing and calm colors and offers expansive indoor and outdoor living areas to include the large private pool. Expansive tiled open air showers enhance the “Aloha” spirit of the island.
Alii Honu Kai is another stunning home that truly captures the essence of the Big Island with its koi pond waterfall. It offers pure luxury and interiors that blur the lines between the outdoors and indoors.