Ka Lei Hali'a O Ka Lokelani - Perpetuating the Hawaiian culture thru song, dance, and language

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Pa'u Hula Blessing

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 

56 Comments to Pa'u Hula Blessing:

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Valerie on Tuesday, May 17, 2011 3:06 PM
Hi, I am Val. I sew pa'u for my halau Ka Pi'o O Ke Anuenue in Ashland, Oregon. We are currently sewing pa'u for an upcoming event in Hawaii. As I sew each sister's pa'u, I think of her and I sing to the fabric. I chant and begin each sewing day with honor and respect. I ask for the gift of song and dance to embrace each garment. I tell stories to each piece as I create them. I cry and I laugh and I sing... There is medicine in this process and I will usually sew a crystal, stone, wood or natural bead to enhance this medicine. My pa'u are very close to me. The pride I have when they are all dancing together is bursting. I have never sung or told stories to garments before. It is funny how I just started to do it. It was just what needed to be done. I was not told to do it and I never knew of anyone who did this until one of my sister posted your comments on facebook today. I have only been sewing pa'u for my halau for 1 year. We honored our Kumu Andrea Luchese with a piece from each of my hula siters hui pa'u.We made our Kumu Hula, a pillow out of the pieces of string and remnants. We each blessed our offering and then placed it in the pillow for the stuffing. Some of the Sisters added sand, shells, leaf, dog fluff (Tao our hui dog), love and unity. We offered it to her as a significant symbol of our love and unity for her, the earth, the universe and hula. It was a powerful experience. Mahalo nui loa! This beautiful and touching piece will stay with me forever. Your Hula Sister, Val PS We are in the middle of fittings and final adjustments. The big Ho'ike is in a couple of days. Things are getting crazy. This could not have come to me at a better time. I will pass this on to my Hui. Thank you, Sister
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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.
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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.
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Jessica on Thursday, March 27, 2014 5:28 PM
I just found the blog you wrote about our Pa'u Hula Blessing, not sure how I missed it before. I read it and the comments and cried. This is a wonderful reminder of what our pa'u hula is and what it means as we prepare for our 2nd Hula Retreat this weekend. For our Halau, our pa'u hula has such special meaning as it carries with it those we have loved and lost in recent years, their time with us, and the memories they made which touched us and live in our hearts. As I research the significance of pa'u to hula, finding this blog is enlightening. I'm going to share this at our retreat to remind us all of the meaning behind our pa's.
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Malia Lani on Thursday, April 19, 2018 6:26 AM
Aloha Lei- Mahalo for your beautiful writing on the pa'u hula. I am wondering if I may share this wonderful blog on my halau website? (pardon my lack of 'okina--this text box does not allow it). There are many new beginning students coming in, and they will have to order or make their pa'u. I think this blog perfectly explains the significance of their pa'u, and their kuleana to malama it.
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