Hawaii Koa Naturals

Merrie Monarch Festival, 2009

Every year, in the peaceful town of Hilo on the Big Island of Hawai’i, residents and vistors alike are treated to a week-long celebration of hula which includes art exhibits, craft fairs, demonstrations, performances, a parade, and a three-day hula competition that has received worldwide recognition for its historic and cultural significance. The Merrie Monarch Festival is dedicated to the memory of King David Kalakaua, known as the Merrie Monarch. King Kalakaua came to the throne of the Hawaiian kingdom in 1874 and reigned until his death in 1891. He was a patron of the arts, especially music and dance, and almost single-handedly restored many of the nearly extinct cultural traditions of the Hawaiian people. These included myths and legends, and the hula, which had been forbidden by the missionaries for over 70 years. Ancient Hawaiians had no written language. Instead, all communication beyond the spoken word took place in the form of chants and the dance called hula. Hula and its accompanying chants recorded Hawaiian geneology, mythology, and prayers of the heart and mind. The hula was the means by which the culture, history, stories, and almost every aspect of Hawaiian life was expressed and passed down through generations.