Moku Ola located on the Big Island near Hilo Bay, once served as a safe haven for healing and refuge. Ancient Hawaiians came for the sacred spring water and in return, placed umbilical cords from infants under a rock called Papa a Hina. It was a place of peace and tranquility.
Today Moku Ola, also known as Coconut Island, continues to perpetuate its harmonious heritage as the site of the second annual World Peace Festival earlier this week. The multi-cultural event celebrated the ideal of peace with music, dance, delicious food and good company. A global line-up of entertainers brought together bits and pieces of different cultures from around the world.
Those who attended had a chance to experience Okinawa, with taiko drumming performances, and then Tahiti, with the dance and music of Merahi o Tapiti. Melodious sounds from the Hawaiian slack key and Samoan chants resonated in the Hilo air.
The University of Hawaii at Hilo’s Pohnpeian Club shared perse cultural traditions from Micronesia, most notably the sakau pounding ceremony. Sakau, known as the “drink of peace,” is important in almost every part of the Micronesians’ lives. From birth to marriage to funerals, the sakau ceremony gives blessing to Micronesians taking their next step in life and has similar properties to kava.
The World Peace Festival brought together multiple cultures, from Hawaii to Samoa to Okinawa.
Peace in Hawaii
The quiet town of Hilo has pushed for peace over the past few decades. The Peace Festival is among many community efforts. Last year, dozens showed up for a peace rally that protested the U.S. war. The year before that, Hilo residents held a vigil recognizing the 25th anniversary of the Hilo nuclear warship blockade.
In 1981, the Hawaii County Council unanimously declared Hawaii County a Nuclear-Free Zone, the first in our nation’s history. The military continued to send nuclear-powered and/or armed warships to the island. Years past before a non-profit organization called Malu Aina announced a non-violent blockade. Hundreds gathered on the Hilo docks to protest, with three men jumping in to physically block the warships from coming.
This commemoration is a prime example of how such a tiny town manages to have such a huge voice and make an even bigger impact on the world. Hopefully these efforts don’t stop in Hilo and can find their way overseas and across the globe.
Source: Pukui, Mary Kawena and Elbert, Samuel. Place Names of Hawaii. University of Hawaii Press: Honolulu, 1974.
Photo Credit: Hawaii County