Makahiki season brings ancient traditions and games back to Molokaʻi
The season of Makahiki is coming to a close. That means an end to cultural ceremonies, protocols, athletic competitions and community celebrations until next year.
The celebration is Ka Molokaʻi Makahiki. It’s an ancient tradition revived by Molokaʻi residents since 1981.
“The rising of the Makaliʻi constellation on the eastern horizon during the setting of the sun in the west signals the beginning of Hawaiian new year, the season of Makahiki," Nahulu Maioho said at the opening ceremony of a recent festival.
"This was a time set aside to give thanks and to celebrate life. This was a time dedicated to Lono, guardian of rain, agriculture, abundance and peace," Maioho said.
Ka Molokaʻi Makahiki includes cultural protocols, honoring kūpuna, and athletic competition. Keiki from across the island represent their schools in feats of strength, stamina and skill.
Competitions include kukini (running races), huki huki (tug of war), uma (arm wrestling), kōnane (Hawaiian checkers) and haka moa (a one-legged chicken fight.)
The games are one way to celebrate, but for Molokaʻi, Makahiki is more than that.
During the pandemic, when community celebrations were put on hold, Ka Molokaʻi Makahiki organizers revived another tradition.
Ka’ahele a Lono is the journey of the Lonomakua banner from Hālawa on Molokaʻi's east end, to Hale O Lono in the west. The tall, 40-pound banner symbolizes Lono and is made of wood draped in white kapa and lei kukui.
It is shouldered by community members walking more than 50 miles across the island over several days.
Participants have found the Kaʻahele brings new perspectives — an opportunity to assess the health of the land and increase cultural awareness.
It’s a tradition organizers hope to carry into the future.