Immerse yourself in Hawaiian Culture on your Vacation

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If you’re visiting Hawaii and catch a local newscast, you may see a segment featuring a Hawaiian blessing ceremony, it’s part of the Hawaiian Culture. Whether done to consecrate new business, a new home, or even a sports trophy, traditional Hawaiian blessings are a part of the culture in the islands. And, we take them very seriously.

Lanai and I often get asked: What IS a traditional Hawaiian blessing? And, why is it so important to people in Hawaii?
Ask and you shall receive! This is the topic for today’s show!

Here’s a brief tutorial on this very sacred event and some facts about Hawaiian blessings:

What is a traditional Hawaiian blessing? According to, blessings are a sacred tradition in Hawaiian protocol. “The purpose of Blessing Ceremonies is to invite the goodness from the hightest for Aloha, happiness, harmony, health, peace, protection, and abundance. As well to say Mahalo (thank you).” Each kahu (the person performing the blessing) has his/her own way of presenting a blessing. However, most kahu begins by explaining the process to the clients. Then, the kahu will chant or recite prayers (typically in Hawaiian) and, perhaps, use incense.

On the website,, the use of incense is explained this way: “Kahu says the smoke ‘talks’ to him and all who are present will obviously see the unique way the smoke behaves curling into shapes that only Kahu can interpret.”

Why have a traditional Hawaiian blessing? According to, blessing ceremonies are done for many reasons. “They are done to give thanks for good things, to help resolve bad things, in celebration, and in penance. They are done to facilitate change. The birth of a baby changes its own status, making it an independent human. Buying land changes the status of the land, and the responsibilities of the former and new owners. Building a home or business on the land changes things yet again.”

Who performs a traditional Hawaiian blessing? The person who typically performs a Hawaiian blessing is a kahu. Kahu is a Hawaiian word that means caretaker, guardian, or honored attendant. According to, “Each kahu will have been trained by his or her own mentors and will eventually create a synthesis which expresses a synergy of the kahu’s own manao (thought process), tradition, and the specific people for whom the blessing is being called.”

Most kahus will remind their clients that they, in fact, do not have the power to bless anything. Instead, they call upon “Ke Akua (the supreme creator), the various spiritual entities associated with the land for which blessing is being sought, my own ancestors, and the ancestors of the people involved.”

Who would ask for a traditional Hawaiian blessing? Anyone, really, can ask for a Hawaiian blessing. Even some visitors find it comforting to call upon a kahu to bless their visit to the islands.

Some examples of Hawaiian blessing intentions include:

  • Couples wanting to become pregnant
  • Difficult pregnancy
  • Birth of a child
  • Child’s first birthday
  • Childhood problems
  • Graduation
  • Weddings
  • Funerals
  • New home
  • New business
  • Land transfer

Of course, any life event or ceremony may call for a Hawaiian blessing. For example, if you plan to attend a traditional luau, you may even witness an abbreviated Hawaiian blessing at the beginning of the meal.

Traditional Hawaiian blessings have a deep, cultural significance to those who live in Hawaii, and they are especially poignant for those of Native Hawaiian ancestry. So, if you’re fortunate enough to see one while you’re visiting Hawaii, make sure to be respectful!