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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted on: Sunday, March 6, 2005

On O'ahu, a fond aloha to Lono

By Karen Blakeman
Advertiser Staff Writer

Lono, the Hawaiian god who presides over a four-month season of rain and relaxation, fertility and enjoyment of the harvest, was bid farewell yesterday during an ocean-side ceremony at Marine Corps Base Hawai'i in Kane'ohe.

Laurence Wallace Camvel, right, helped mark the end of makahiki yesterday. The four-month season, according to Hawaiian legend, is ruled over by the god Lono and is a time of relaxation and games.

Rebecca Breyer • The Honolulu Advertiser

Brought by canoe to Hale Koa beach on the Mokapu Peninsula as part of a circuit of the island, Lono's sail-like akua loa (tall image) presided over games of strength and balance. Then the god, plied with gifts of the harvest, was sent off to Tahiti, where he will remain until the next makahiki season begins.

His departure allows for the return of Ku, a businesslike war god who presides over the next eight months of work and productivity, said Donna Ann Kameha'iku, who is the third generation of her family to help lead a makahiki closing ceremony at the Marine base since the mid-1970s.

Her great-uncle, Sam Lono, fought for the right to honor the Hawaiian god there, she said.

"That was during the Hawaiian renaissance," she said. "People fought for the ability to come to the sacred places and practice our religion."

In the 1970s, some who demanded access to the sacred lands that were closed to them were arrested, she said. This year those who would bid farewell to Lono were welcomed at the base.

Lono's akua loa (tall image) arrived at Marine Corp Base Hawai'i by canoe. After presiding over games and festivities, Lono began his trip to Tahiti where he will remain until the next makahiki.

Rebecca Breyer • The Honolulu Advertiser

Kameha'iku said she felt she and the others who had gathered for the ceremony yesterday accomplished things that needed to be accomplished. The lands and sea had responded to them.

First, she said, there was the rainbow that framed the stretch of ocean Lono's canoe escorts would cross.

Then, there were the flying fish that lined up in front of the beach where the canoes would land.

The fish jumped repeatedly from the water, a chorus line of flashing bellies just yards from the crowd on the beach. The fish jumped toward an old pier, then vanished.

"Ho'ailona," Kameha'iku said. "A sign. A validation that what we are doing is right. A verification that we are doing things the right way."

The guests, who included a couple of Marines wearing civilian clothes, enjoyed food and dancing after Lono set sail for Tahiti.

Ku will be welcomed back in a ceremony this morning, Kameha'iku said.

Reach Karen Blakeman at 535-2430 or kblakeman@honoluluadvertiser.com.