When the lava flows, a Hawai­ian god­dess’ name is in­voked

The Star Malaysia - - World -

HONOLULU: In ru­ral Hawaii neigh­bour­hoods where lava from the Ki­lauea vol­cano has burned down or threat­ened to con­sume the homes, a name often comes up: Pele (peh-leh).

“You can’t re­ally pre­dict what Pele is go­ing to do,” said Julie Woolsey, who evac­u­ated on May 3 as a fis­sure opened on her street, ooz­ing lava just 1,000ft from her home.

Here is more in­for­ma­tion about Pele and why the god­dess is revered:

Who is Pele

Pele, known as the god­dess of vol­ca­noes and fire, is an im­por­tant fig­ure in Hawai­ian cul­ture. She rep­re­sents all the phenom­ena re­lated to vol­ca­noes – the magma, steam, ash, acid rain.

Pele is an akua, or god­dess, but not in the way peo­ple out­side Hawaii might think of gods and god­desses.

“We feel that the word god has kind of a Western con­no­ta­tion to it, so we use the word ‘el­e­ment’,” said Ku­ulei Kana­hele, re­searcher at the Edith Kanakaole Foun­da­tion, which fo­cuses on Na­tive Hawai­ian cul­tural preservation and ed­u­ca­tion.

Ac­cord­ing to chants, Pele and her fam­ily mi­grated from kahiki – an un­spec­i­fied land out­side of Hawaii.

She first landed in the north­west­ern Hawai­ian is­lands be­fore mak­ing her way through the main Hawai­ian is­lands be­fore set­tling in Hawaii Is­land.

She dug craters on the is­lands but, “She didn’t find a crater that was suit­able to her lik­ing,” Kana­hele said, un­til Ki­lauea’s Hale­mau­mau crater, where she now re­sides.

Why is she revered?

“In Hawai­ian think­ing and Hawai­ian cul­ture, Pele is the foun­da­tion, the cre­ation of land,” said Pi­ilani Kaawaloa, who teaches at the Hawaii Is­land cam­pus of Kame­hameha Schools.

She has two forms, Kaawaloa ex­plained, one that stays at the crater tend­ing to her fire pit and an­other that goes “holo­holo” or leisurely ex­plor­ing, around Puna, a dis­trict on the slopes of the vol­cano.

That’s ex­actly what is hap­pen­ing now with the lava fis­sures open­ing up in Puna’s Leilani Es­tates and neigh­bour­ing com­mu­ni­ties.

Leg­ends of Pele

A pop­u­lar leg­end tells the tale of a frail, old woman who asks for food from two girls cook­ing bread­fruit. One girl said they didn’t have food for strangers, but the younger girl shared the bread­fruit. The woman told the younger girl that strange things would be hap­pen­ing on the moun­tain­side and to tell her fam­ily to hang bits of cloth made from bark to stay safe.

The younger girl’s grand­mother said that woman was Pele and heeded the ad­vice. A neigh­bour told them Pele is an­gry and she’s stirring her fire pit on Mauna Loa, ac­cord­ing to Hawaii Is­land Leg­ends.

Pele sent her lava to de­stroy those who made her an­gry. The lava stream broke in two and flowed on each side of the younger girl’s home. — AP

— AP

Ap­peas­ing the heav­ens: Mem­bers of the Hula Na Mamo O Pu’ua­nahulu hula school per­form­ing for Pele, the god­dess of the vol­cano, on the rim of Ki­lauea Vol­cano in Hawai’i Vol­ca­noes Na­tional Park in Hawaii.

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