Saturday evening was the culmination of the Merrie Monarch hula festivities, but not the end to the awareness of the rapid ohia death which is plaguing the island of Hawaii. Many of the hula halaus respected the unspoken ban of using the lovely ohia blossom in their hula attire as it could jeopardize future generations from enjoying the beauty of this flower. The ohia has a significant meaning for hula and not being able to use it in abundance in the festivities was a crutch for many, but also allowed the kumu hulas (hula teachers) to think outside of the box on using other native plants and/or flowers.
Until the ohia are healthy, many hula practitioners as well as lei makers will not be entering the forest on the island of Hawaii as frequent as before. If anyone is visiting the Island of Hawaii, take note of the poster below from Rapid Ohia Death awareness group:
On Monday, Hilo International Airport was flooded with flowers and leis left behind by visitors who could not remove them from the island in order to prevent the disease from spreading to healthy ohia on the neighboring islands. I look forward to the day we can happily go into the forest and freely pick the lovely red, orange, yellow ohia lehua blossoms.
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