Pass It Forward
Trip Start Mar 01, 2012
133Trip End Mar 31, 2014
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The narrator continued. “Family is very important in our culture, and children are taught from the beginning about their ancestors. My 6-year-old son can do the recitation for 10 generations back already.” He was explaining the
Family history. Genealogy. Important in Polynesian culture; important to the LDS church. The Polynesian Cultural Center was built in 1963 by missionaries of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints; and about 80% of the workers and performers there today are students at the nearby branch of Brigham Young University. Most are from Polynesian countries but not all; our canoe “driver” later on was from Kansas. Rated the top paid tourist attraction in Hawaii, the Center is a non-profit organization, dedicated to preserving the cultural heritage of Polynesia while providing scholarships for hundreds of students. No tipping is allowed; no alcohol either; this is a family place with pleasant
There’s something educational in every spot; something entertaining too; bamboo raft rides and ukulele lessons, ancient games and spear tossing and coconut bread making; see the worship places and the community gathering huts; the warrior canoes and the Iosepa, a huge double-hulled canoe used by early Polynesians as they began to migrate. More to do than energy will allow; we walked and sat and walked and sat; we were gallantly canoed, carefully tattooed, and lavishly luau-ed, complete with Aloha greeting and orchid lei. There was music all day; music, and family; workers address visitors as “cousins.” We shared our luau table with Al and Debbie from Tennessee and their two sons and daughters-in-law;
The last family touch at 7:45, to the beating of the drums. We’re in the huge Pacific Theater now; the sky behind the mountain backdrop of the stage is navy blue; we’re so tired we’re close to sleep. Something white drops from the top of the curving roof above, flutters in the breeze; it’s a flowing screen, the backdrop for the story, HA, the Breath of Life. We see the couple’s escape from the volcano’s fire, what happens next? The screen drops away and people appear on the grassy stage; the tale is told. “Mesmerizing” is an overused word, but it’s the only word that fits; for the next ninety minutes we are caught up in the pageantry, the colors and sounds, the emotion of Mana’s life. A baby is born, the village rejoices. Father teaches son, son becomes a man. Life’s experiences shape character, the son becomes a father. And life continues, generation after generation.
Seventeen generations? Chanted in the heart? Now, that is something.
About the Polynesian Cultural Center, 55-370 Kamehameha Highway, Laie, Hawaii 96762