Hawaii Mom Blog: Visit Maui: Celebration of the Arts




May 5, 2023

Visit Maui: Celebration of the Arts

Last month, I was fortunate to have been invited to the 31st Celebration of the Arts at The Ritz-Carlton Maui, Kapalua.   

This weekend event offers activities centered around Hawaiian culture, featuring more than 60 of the state's cultural practitioners and community leaders.  

The event kicked off with a reception where I met Kalai Pahu (drum carver) Keoni Turalde of the Big Island, and I mentioned to him that I actually met his brother at the salt ponds on Kauai, where he graciously gifted us salt.  Keoni was so gracious and humble, and I was so emotional talking to him about the future of local culture.

The reception emphasized the theme of the event - Kuleana, and ended with an impromptu performance of Ka Uluwehi O Ke Kai, sung by Maui Mayor Bissen, and danced by two renowned kumu hula.  

The next morning started before the sunrise, with everyone heading to D.T. Fleming Beach for the E Ala E and Hiuwai Ceremonies.  No photography or video was allowed during the chants and protocol, but I can tell you that it was an inspiring, spiritual, and emotional morning, and I found myself in tears.

To officially kick off the Celebration of the Arts was Wehe Ka Ipuka (Open the Gateway), where practitioners chant to ask for permission to be a part of the event, and the Namahana Award of Excellence are presented to two kupuna.  

Following the ceremony, guests could participate in hands-on workshops and seek out locally-made products at the craft fair. 

You could make earrings, do kapa art, play konane (Hawaiian checkers), and so much more.  

Workshops were plentiful, with topics including music, food, and medicine.

One of the workshops I attended was Walking to Wellness, during which Kahu Lyons Naone taught us so much about Hawaiian medicine.  We learned about the 4 important parts to Hawaiian medicine, he identified a few plants around the property that are commonly used in medicine, and told us some of the processes that are important when foraging for the medicinal plants.  

The next morning started with another meaningful activity.  We went to Field 52 at the Pu`u Kukui Watershed to help plant `a`ali`i and koa in an old pineapple field. 

In years to come, these trees will produce future canoes, future nesting areas for native birds, and even future seeds for more plantings.

There were so many immersive activities and workshops - I wish I could've attended them all!

The Celebration of the Arts culminated with the Celebration of Island Tastes Luau and the Carmen Hulu Lindsey Leo Ha`iha`i Falsetto contest.

Guests indulged in authentic eats, and were treated to amazing hula and falsetto performances.  

The night was so amazing. In fact, the entire weekend was amazing with so many "chicken skin" moments and many tears shed.

I learned so much, I gained a better understanding of certain aspects of Hawaiian culture, and I left the event with a deeper appreciation of the language, the music, the dance, the food, and the customs.

The Celebration of the Arts allowed me to reflect on the past while focusing on the future, thinking about ways I can better it for my kids and subsequent generations.  

I highly recommend the Celebration of the Arts to anyone wanting to learn more about Hawaiian culture and experience it authentically.

Even though I was born and raised on Oahu and lived here all my life, the amount I have yet to learn about the culture is vast.

And it is important to learn, as we are surrounded by Hawaiian culture - foods, street names, cities, plants, customs, so why wouldn't we learn more about it to get a better understanding?

Visit https://kapaluacelebrationofthearts.com/ for updates on next year's event.

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