Tradition fuels student scholarships

LIHUE — Tamara Akau had just returned home from Eastern Washington University, and turned out early Saturday at the Hawaii Government Employees Association offices in Lihue.

“This is about giving back,” said Akau, who was joined by her mother and sisters. “I was one of the recipients of the HGEA Charles R. Kendall scholarships which helps me in my study of communication disorders.”

Proceeds from the sale of kadomatsu, a traditional New Year’s arrangement, go toward the scholarships, explained Gerald Ako, the Kauai HGEA office manager.

“We’ve been doing this since 1996 with the sales going toward the Kendall Scholarship fund,” Ako said. “This year, we’ve got about 350 available for people to celebrate the New Year.”

The kadomatsu, a traditional Japanese bamboo floral arrangement which welcomes the New Year, is available now at the HGEA offices located at 3212 Akahi St. until Dec. 31.

Prices are $30 for HGEA members and $35 for non-HGEA members with the proceeds benefiting the Kendall Scholarship fund.

“I’m an HGEA member and Tamara was a recipient of the scholarship,” said Teresa Caires. “The children are here to give back and learn.”

Anchored by bamboo provided by Grove Farm Company, the kadomatsu is known as “gate pine” because it is usually placed at both sides of the home’s entry.

With sprigs of pine from the Makaha Ridge in Kokee and plum blossoms, the kadomatsu is one of the traditions that came to Hawaii with the Japanese immigrants who were brought to labor on the plantations.

The kadomatsu symbolize longevity, gentleness and fidelity, originating from the belief that kadomatsu serves as a dwelling for the god which brings good luck at the beginning of the year.

Kadomatsu are displayed until Jan. 7 and are disposed of by burning.

For more information contact 245-6751.

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