Aloha Week digs down to cultural roots

WAILUA – Even a newly transplanted mainlander like Eliel Starbright realized

the importance of the investiture of Kaua’i Aloha Week’s royal court last

Saturday.

The ancient prayers, chants and dances that were part of the

colorful ceremony had the rapt attention of Starbright. He arrived on the

island just two days earlier but found his way to Poli’ahu Heiaa Park, where he

and about 60 other spectators—many with cameras to capture the costumes and

rituals—respectfully watched the deeply cultural proceedings enacted by 20

local participants.

“It’s exciting that they’re following their

traditions,” said Starbright, who moved here from San Diego, Calif. to become

an organic farmer. Watching the investiture, he said, would help him “tune into

Hawaiian traditions, so I can be here and understand the island.”

Stella

Burgess had similar feelings, though from the perspective of being a lifetime

resident of Kaua’i.

“This means lots of things to me,” she said as she

watched islanders present gifts to king Donald Kana’ina Smythe and queen Faith

Mahealani Burgess in the manner of Hawaiian ancestors. “The revitalization of

our culture, seeing what would have happened in the beginning—this is all

important.”

Only the sound of automobiles passing the roadside park broke

the reverie and the feeling of how Kaua’i once was. It’s an attitude that Aloha

Week annually tries to preserve.

The investiture, followed by a luncheon

at the Holiday Inn Sun Spree resort, were the first official appearances of

this year’s royal court and were a preliminary to the celebration that’s

planned for Oct. 13-22. The festival’s cultural events will include an all will

include an all-day field trip to sacred sites in Wailua.

Aloha Week, which

also is celebrated on other islands, is funded through the Hawai’i Tourism

Authority, corporate sponsorships, private donations and sales of festival

merchandise.

Editor Pat Jenkins can be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 227)

and pjenkins@pulitzer.net

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