Sunday, 6 June 2010

The Kaahumanu Society

The black holoku and yellow feather lei are the official garb of one of Hawaii's prominent women's groups, the Ahahui (or Society) Kaahumanu. You will easily recognize this society by its distinctive costume at the Kamehameha Day parade and other patriotic Hawaiian celebrations.

It was founded in 1905 by a group of public-spirited women of Hawaiian blood who were distressed that no attention was being paid to the graves of the aliis at the Royal Mausoleum. They assumed the duties of supplying leis and flowers on significant Hawaiian feast days.

Later they began to take care of funerals of their own members. In 1962 there were four hundred fifty members in chapters on Kauai, Maui, Molokai, and Oahu. All part- or full-blooded Hawaiian women between eighteen and sixty are eligible for membership.

Hawaii can be just tropical relaxation, which is value enough for the nerve-frazzled mainland American. But, to get more subtle values out of a visit, you should dig more deeply into this unique culture--as I have tried to lure you to do--with these vignettes on its language and customs. There is much more, all of it endlessly fascinating.

From A Dolphin Guide to Hawaii, 1965, Authentic Hawaiiana, pp. 34-35

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