Hawaiian use and understanding of plants is thoroughly and profoundly religious.Many species of plants had specific religious values. It is based on a strong, polytheistic tradition that was the backbone of Hawaiian culture until the kapu was abolished in 1819.ʻThe entire environment – from the land, the sea, the sky, and their creatures – are suffused with meaning.Religious beliefs and practices pervaded daily life, structuring society and influencing the behavior and decisions of the kanaka maoliThe kanaka maoli believe that ali`i were earthly representatives of the gods. As such, their principal function was to take care of the land (mālama `āina) and to protect it for the people. Natural disasters were considered clear manifestations of the gods’ displeasure.
The kanaka maoli also believed that many natural objects – geological formations, rocks, plants, and animals were kinolau or body forms of the gods.Each of the four major gods had more than one kinolau in which they dwelled simultaneously Such manifestations include human, fish and plant forms, as well as phenomenon such as lightning, hailstones, and rainbowsIn these visibly earthly manifestations, the gods became a part of day to day life for the kanaka maoli
Some food were kapu for women to handle or prepare for food. Only men could cultivate and harvest kaloMai`a were forbidden to women except for certain varieties that were declared free of kapuThe coconut was kapu to women. They never made `aha (cordage or rope made from coconut fibers), although they made other kinds of cordage
Every step in the process of cultivating the `āina included prayers and offerings to the godsIf the wet-land kalo needed sunlight, the kanaka maoli prayed and offered ho`okupu or gifts to Kāne the god of sunlightIf dry-land kalo on the upper slopes needed water, prayers and ho`okupu were made to Lono, god of rain
Ki`i are sacred images or wooden statues of the Hawaiian gods. The large ki`i were in heiau, but sadly most of the ki`i were destroyed when the kapu system was abolished in 1819. The smaller ki`i were likely used as secondary images in the temples or on the family altar located in each men’s house (hale mua).Most of the large images were carved from wood of the `ōhi`alehua which is a kinolau of the gods Kāne and kū. The reddish color of the freshly cut wood may have been considered appropriate for figures associated with sacrifices. The wood tends to crack as it dries, and most of the surviving large images manifest such cracks. Exposure to rain and sunshine also has the effect of bleaching the wood, as may be seen occurring in the ki`i shown here at Hale oKeawe at Pu`uhonuaoHōnaunau in Kona.
The smaller ki`i were often made of `ōhi`alehua as well, but several other woods were used as well, including kauila and kou.
The Makahiki begins in mid-October and celebrates the change of 'hot season,' of KauWela into the 'wet season' of Ho'oilo. In ancient days, Hawaiians marched the perimeter of the island – from ahupua`a to ahupua`a - in processions collecting tributes for the Ali'i Nui and also recycling all the produce, it being distributed evenly. It was a religious festival honoring Lono, the god of fertility, peace and rain. During this time, war became kapu and Luakini temple closed. All work not needed for immediate activities stopped.it was a time of renewal for all and all things, a time of rest and sports and religious festivities Lono made his annual visit in the form of an image carried around each island in the procession.A tall image of Lonoconsisting of a staff usually made of kauilawood adorned with palapalai ferns, feather leis and skins of the ka'upu birds fastened to a cross piece. These represented the clouds upon which Lono made his arrival in the guise of rain.
A portion of dried root or a cup of the drink was frequently included in offerings to the gods, and priests often drank `awa at the end of a ceremony
Ti received heavy ceremonial use as well and was frequently planted around heiauIt was also valued as a charm against evil spiritsIn certain circumstances, the presence of ti-leaves announced a kapu and they could be used to protect oneself when breaking a kapuFor example, when women had their ma`i, they were required to remain in the hale……However, accounts speak of a woman who had to cross Pele’s domain while she was menstruating. Since she was breaking a kapu, she protected herself by making the trip adorned with ti-leaf lei and kūpe`e as well as being accompanied by two men holding stalks of ti-leaves.
In the times of family dissension, a ceremony called ho`oponopono (literally to make things right) was held.Each participant, the offender and the innocent alike, prayed that the family be made whole again and prayed for each other’s forgiveness.When forgiveness was reached, each person ate a piece of limukala. The word kala means to forgive. This ceremony is still held in some `ohana today, however, it is usually done without the seaweed today.
KINOLAU• According to the Hawaiian dictionary, kinolau are “many forms taken by a supernatural body” (Literally: many bodies)• It is believed that when the gods tangibly manifested themselves on earth they did so in the forms of kinolau
KĀNE• Considered to be the leading god of the 4 major gods• God of creation• Ancestor of chiefs and commoners• God of forests, fresh water, and sunlight• Kinolau – kalo, `ōhi`alehua, `ohe
KŪ• God of the major works of men including warfare, adze making, canoe making, farming, fishing and government• Elaborate luakiniheiau that required the highest of gifts, that of the life of a man• Took many forms such as Kūka`ilimoku&Kū`ula• Kinolau - `ulu, niu, `ōhi`a
LONO• God of fertility, peace and agriculture• God of clouds, rain, and winds• Lonoikamakahiki - patron god of the Makahiki, the fall harvest festival• Kinolau – kukui, `uala
KANALOA• God of the ocean and the ocean winds• Together with Kāne, he was able to locate water in springs• Kinolau - `uhaloa
`ŌLELO NO`EAU• E hānai `awa a ikaika ka makani Feed with `awa so that the spirit may gain strength One offers `awa and prayers to the dead so that their spirits may grow strong and be a source of help to the family
`ŌLELO NO`EAU• E pale lau`īikoakuakehikiakui Kona Place a shield of ti-leaves before your god when you arrive in Kona. A message sent by Ka`ahumanu to Liholiho requesting him to free the kapu of his god Kūka`ilimoku. Ka`ahumanu was at that time striving to abolish the kapu system.