The Rebirth of Hula: How Hawaiian People Connect with the Gods

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  • Topic: Hula, Kalākaua, Hawaii
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  • Published : May 3, 2013
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The Rebirth of Hula
“Hula is the language of the heart, and therefore the heartbeat of the Hawaiian people” –King David Kalakaua. In the event of the rebirth of hula, reaction was shown most out of all of the three themes revolution, reaction, and reform. This is because throughout this event, it showed how the missionaries reacted to what the Hawaiians had already established on their own. This included how they reacted to the hula and the Hawaiian traditions such as nudity. The missionaries didn’t like it so they were quick and smart with their ways of changing the Hawaiians. Just because of this reaction that the missionaries had, caused the event of the rebirth of hula.

Hula was a way that the Hawaiian people connected with the gods. It was a part of them; that all changed when the missionaries came to Hawaii in 1820. A social cause would be that the missionaries had different opinions about the art of hula. Some of the first missionaries, such as Captain Cook remarked on the grace and beauty of the native dance (Marty, AA2). Other missionaries, such as Hiram Bingham, wrote in his diary “The whole arrangement and process of their old hulas were designed to promote lascivious nous [sic], and of course the practice of them could not flourish in modest communities. They had been interwoven too with their superstitions, and made subservient to the honor of their gods, and then rulers, either living or departed or deified (Schmitt, Robert, L1).” With this statement, he showed that he didn’t like or appreciate the art of hula. Hula was then seen as more of a “tourist attraction” than a way to connect with the gods. This is an economical cause. Since it was only seen as a tourist attraction and wasn’t supposed to be performed or practiced, it went “underground” so that the tradition could still live on (Harington, Daniel, I2). In 1851, the missionaries thought that maybe hula could be used to provide entertainment for visitors. So with that, hula was allowed in the public and was performed for sailors and travelers (“Hula”, FF2 and 12). Because the missionaries apparently had a lot of power unlike the Hawaiian ali’i, they were able to declare hula illegal. Many if the missionaries were appalled by the “noisy” and “heathenish” hula, and they made great efforts to band the dance (Snorokel, Molokini, Q1). Eventually they were able to convert the royalty to Christianity and therefore were able to declare hula illegal (Snorokel, Molokini, Q1).

Hawaiians believed that hula originated when Pele, the goddess of fire, commanded her sister Laka, to dance for her. Another way the hula was believed to have started was that Hi’iaka danced to appease her sister Pele. A lot of the dances today are based of Hi’iaka and many began to honor Laka as well. Laka was then known as the goddess of hula. The chronological order of how the hula became to be what it is today would be Laka or Hi’iaka dancing for Pele, hula kahiko (the traditional style of dancing), missionaries and their negative remarks on hula, conversion to Christianity, banning of hula, king Kalakaua gets elected king (1874), rebirth of hula, and a different style of dancing (‘auana). When missionaries came in 1820, the declared hula illegal because they thought it was “noisy” and “Heathenish” (Snorokel, Molokini, Q1). King Kalakaua brought back hula on his coronation day in February of 1883 (Harington, Daniel, I2). In ways, hula was a natural thing for the Hawaiian people. First, it was a part of the (“Hula”, FF1). Second, it basically started before any human beings started dancing (“Hula”, FF1). It started with their gods and was carried on and presented through human beings. It was a way of connecting to their gods; a connection that only they have with them.

The missionaries banned the hula because they thought it was bad. When King David Kalakaua took the thrown, all the damage that the missionaries caused, would be made up. How he did this...
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