Eo e Emalani i Alaka’i

I keep mentioning that we went to Kokee last Saturday, I just haven’t gotten around to writing about it until now. We went to see the annual Eo e Emalani i Alaka’i festival, commemorating Queen Emma’s trip to the Alaka’i swamp. That doesn’t sound like something to celebrate, but here’s the story:

In early 1871, when Queen Emma took a fancy to journey from her Lawa’i beach house up to the isolated reaches of Waimea Canyon and the misted bogs of the Alaka’i Swamp, she set off in a flurry of activity. An experienced guide was sought, provisions and horses were procured, and a path of fern logs was hastily laid through the wettest part of the swamp for the convenience of the Queen and her almost 100 traveling friends. Led by Kaluahi, the guide recommended by Eric Knudsen of Waimea, her party trekked all the way to the Kilohana viewpoint, with a vista stretching to Hanalei and Wainiha. She wanted to see for herself the spectacular views she had only heard about. […] When Queen Emma trekked up the mountain, members of her entourage paused at scenic vistas to compose new chants and songs.

Kauai’s mountain forest echoes with the sounds of Hawaiian music and traditional chants at this free annual festival, held the second Saturday in October, mist or shine. […] Queen Emma and her entourage enter the lovely Kanaloahuluhulu Meadow on horseback, accompanied by as many as thirteen hula halau from around the state who perform ancient chants and dances as gifts for their Queen.

This year there was perfect weather, and the meadow came alive with mele (songs, music) and hula. Usually, the meadow feels big, empty and often chilly, but we took advantage of the break in the hula to have our picnic in the shade on the other side, and it seemed like one big lawn party:

Watching frisbee players and listening to the music from across the meadow, with the beautiful Kokee forest as a backdrop.

The hula itself was very good, this is the setting that I imagine it used to be performed in. The halau (troupes) chant as they walk in and out facing the dignitaries and all the commoners sit around to watch the performance. This year, there were a lot of children performing, so it felt less formal and more like a recital, with the people eager to show off their dances:

Our friends Katharina and C are dancing in the second picture.

Printed from: http://great-hikes.com/blog/eo-e-emalani-i-alakai/.
© 2018.

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