A Hawaiian Blessing as part of the opening of a new COVID-19 mobile testing lab at Honolulu International Airport today was a reminder Hawaii is just a little different and maybe a little better than most places in the United States facing a crisis and political trouble.
It’s one of the reasons for visitors to love vacationing in the Aloha State. When presented with a flower lei the meaning behind it is this: The flower lei may last for only a brief moment in time, but the sentiment behind it lasts forever.
Today Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell and Hawaii Governor Ige attended a Hawaiian Blessing ceremony for the testing lab for COVID-19 that can process up to 10,000 tests a day at the state’s largest airport.
With Japanese visitors coming back as of Friday, Governor Ige is trying to convince the Japanese government to accept testing results from this lab, so returning visitors would avoid the mandatory quarantine when arriving in Japan.
The Governor today indicated Hawaii should be seen different from the rest of the United States. Hawaii COVID-19 numbers are low compared to the mainland USA.
Should Japan go along with Hawaii’s suggestion, other tourism bubbles could be explored with between Hawaii and South Korea, Australia or New Zealand.
Everything works a little different in the Aloha State. It became clear today when the laboratory was blessed by a Hawaiian priest. Social distancing among attendance was interrupted for a minute, allowing this Hawaiian tradition to go on.
The Hawaiian Blessing Ceremony goes back to the early days in Hawai’i. After the arrival of missionaries in 1820, it began to incorporate more Christian elements.
The specifics of a Hawaiian Blessing Ceremony can differ depending on what the blessing is for. Generally, these days it is for the opening of a new business, the completion of a building, the ceremony before the house-warming party or any other newly opened establishment. It can also be for a groundbreaking or if someone feels the need to bless a specific place for any reason. Perhaps, as in the old Hawaiian tradition, asking the different gods and goddesses for their guidance and blessing while also expressing gratitude.
A Hawaiian Kahu* is called upon to give the blessing. The blessing, based on traditional Hawaiian belief of kapu*, is used to remove something disturbing that has arisen or has been called down upon a place. Things such as negative energy or curses. The notion is to cleanse or heal the space so that the new occupants can start afresh. Sometimes, the Kahu will simply ask for forgiveness for some egregious insult to the gods or the ancestors, such as when bones are disturbed during a construction building project.
The Kahu personalizes blessings specifically for the occasion. He or she will speak, choose a reading, or chant something that is suited to the place they will bless.
Three elements are included in this blessing: the asking for blessings from Akua*, the sprinkling of saltwater, and the untying of a Maile Lei* that may be gently draped in an appropriate area.
Once the ceremony is over, the kapu are amama*.