Zest for life celebrated in Waimea

WAIMEA — For over 200 years, Scots around the world have celebrated the birthday of Robert Burns.

Kauaians joined this tribute Saturday as strains of bagpipe music accompanied by the smart, rat-a-tat of a snare drum, announced the start of the Burns Supper at Waimea Plantation Cottages.

Preceded by members of the Waimea High School JROTC color guard, the members of the Pipes and Drums of the Atlantic Watch group from New Jersey returned to help celebrate the event, said Kay Koike, as she recognized familiar faces in the passing group.

The sounds of the bagpipe and the accompanying snare drum triggered a host of video cameras into action as well, as patrons jockeyed for position from their seats in the outdoor dining area.

“Bagpipes in Hawai‘i?” a visiting couple said as they saw the group prepare for the entry. “We just had to come to this.” Robert Burns was born on Jan. 25, 1759, to struggling tenant farmers in Ayrshire, Scotland, and his birthday is celebrated with enthusiasm rivaled only by that of Hogmanay, the traditional new year’s celebration.

Despite passing at 37 years of age, Scots continue to celebrate his birthday, as “Burns’ Night is a tribute to his acute insight into the human condition and his unique talent for expressing it with wit and satire,” read a portion of the program at the Waimea celebration.

The ritual known as “A Burns Supper” was started by close friends of Burns a few years following Burns’ death in 1796, as a tribute to his memory. The basic format for that evening has remained unchanged since that time, and starts with the chairman inviting the company to receive the haggis.

“The occasion is also a time-honored opportunity to emulate Robbie Burns in his appreciation for the Scottish zest for life,” the passage continued.

“Auld Lang Syne,” translated into “Days of Long Ago,” is a familiar tune during new year’s celebrations, and is part of one of the Scot’s poems.

Dave Walker, dressed for the occasion in his kilt and matching Scottish attire, explained that the Hawaiian Islands has, for over 200 hundred years fostered close relations with the people of Scottish heritage, starting with Capt. James Cook.

Hawai‘i’s monarchs retained close ties with Great Britain, including Scotland, and over the years, many Scots made these islands their home, and left “a wee bit of their culture in the multi-cultural stew of modern Hawai‘i.” This was demonstrated by the variety of entertainment that emanated from the core of Scottish celebration that included the presentation of the haggis, led by Walker and accompanied by the commander of the Atlantic Watch, and Selkirk Grace.

Haggis is a Scottish dish consisting of a mixture of the minced heart, lungs, and liver of a sheep or calf mixed with suet, onions, oatmeal and seasonings, and boiled in the stomach of the animal.

Taiko Kauai members waited outside the formal dining area for their cue to take the stage, and in another part of the Waimea Plantation Cottages, students from Halau Kapa Kanae Nae O‘ Kaua‘i rehearsed their steps in the fading daylight of the Westside.

These local variations in the entertainment was interwoven with the format of the Burns Supper that included a “Toast to the Lasses and the Laddies,” Furious Fiddling, and the reading of a selection of poetry composed by Burns, everything coming to a climax with the rendering of “Hawai‘i Pono‘i” and “Hawai‘i Aloha.” The annual event, of which Walker and members of the Fayé family are integral part of, benefited the Kaua‘i Community College culinary-arts program as well as the Rotary Club of West Kauai.

Mark Oyama, one of the instructors at the KCC culinary-arts department as well as the proprietor for Mark’s Place and Contemporary Flavors Catering, headlined a culinary crew that prepared the evening’s menu.

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