When the rise of Makaliʻi (Pleiades) is present in the evening sky, Makahiki begins.
In reverence to Lono, one of the four major godʻs in Hawaiʻi, Makahiki marks a time of peace, relaxation and festivities. Lono invites balance and focus, as he is the god of Peace, Agriculture and Fertility. It is a time to welcome the start of the 4-month period that marks the beginning of a new year.
From mid October thru February, the ‘āina (land) is allowed to rest, war is prohibited and the focus shifts to a time of harvest and festivities. It is believed that Lono returns to Hawaiʻi to repossess the land – and his wife by bringing rain to renew its fertility.
To mark the rite of passage from one season to another, a strict protocol is followed, as to line up with the energies going into Makahiki, with a hiʻuwai (water purification ceremony) occurring on the 1st night of Makahiki. Fires were lit along the coastlines and people wore their best clothing to the beach, upon arrival they removed their clothing and spent the night swimming and bathing in the ocean.
Makahiki was also a time for tax collection, with goods that were either grown or collected – never currency. Once collected, they were left on an ahu (altar) that contains a wooden carved image of a puaʻa (pig) head. A procession around each of the islands with men carrying a Lono standard – went to each of the ahupuaʻa (a land division that usually extends from the mountains to the sea) to collect the gifts. Some of these gifts were taken by the chiefs to be kept as taxes. The rest of the gifts were redistributed back to the inhabitants of the ahupuaʻa. Once all of the taxes were collected, hula and nā mea pāʻani (games) were played throughout the remainder of the season.
Makahiki is still celebrated today and recognized as a time to achieve balance and focus in on our kūleana (responsibility).
On November 14th, Waimea Valley will commence in the celebration of Makahiki, with festivities including, nā mea pāʻani and hula . All are welcome to partake and enjoy the changing of the season the beginning of a new year.