On Friday, January 14th, 2011 our Halau gathered together to bless our pa'u hula. Something I haven't done in such a long time and forgot what it felt like to begin again. As much as we would've like to have done it closer to the new year, the 14th was our new year.
For those who are in daze as to what I am talking about, a pa'u hula is a hula skirt. A simply sewn skirt that is made for each hula dancer. Our halau chose the open pa'u that is tied on one end and is strung with 5 cords. Each style of a pa'u hula has a different meaning and for our halau it represents openning and makaukau; readiness. Each of us 'olapa (hula dancer) are our own person. We live different lives, but when we come together and we wrap our skirts around our waist, we begin to prepare to unite as one. Each cord represents the strength and elements that surround us; earth, wind, fire, water and heart.
A pa'u hula shares the same essence of a tool belt for carpenter. For me, and I'm sure for many 'olapa, dancing without my pa'u hula is dancing naked and I am sure without a tool belt a carpenter feels naked as well. So, with that said, I told my students that everything you are as an 'olapa lives in your pa'u hula. You are represented by your pa'u hula. The stories we learn while dancing, the sweat and tears we pour out preparing for a show, the oli (chants) we perform lives in our pa'u hula. But most of all, our pa'u hula holds our stories and truly knows who we are as a person and an 'olapa.
Many times 'olapa tend to forget that deep meaning behind their pa'u hula. That understanding and respect that is needed to be given to your pa'u hula. It will always be a simply sewn skirt, but it will continue on as your pa'u hula. The life you share with hula is shared with your pa'u hula. Your mana (power) is shared through your pa'u hula and an 'olapa should always remember that.
So, that night we each shared with each other our love for hula. Our understanding and true passion we hold for the Hawaiian culture. Regardless of if the blood flows through your veins or you are Hawaiian at heart, hula will continue to share a story of love, pain, beauty, but most of all history of a nation that at one time believed to be dying. 'Olapa please remember to respect your pa'u hula because our stories and the stories from before our time share that same pa'u hula.
Me ke aloha, Lei