The Makahiki Season!
The Makahiki season is a four-month period of the year, beginning with the first sighting of the makali`i (the constellation Pleiades) in late October or early November on the horizon. As the year’s harvest was gathered, tribute in the form of goods and produce were given to the chiefs from November through December. Various rites of purification and celebration in December and Janurary closed the observance of the makahiki season.
The makahiki was a form of the “first fruits” festivals common to many cultures. Something similar was observed throughout Polynesia, and in Hawai`i the festival reached its greatest elaboration.
While the lands rest and are softened by the rains in preparation of the new planting season, all wars were prohibited and goodwill prevailed. The chiefs joined with the maka`ainana in feasting, testing of argumentative skills and athletic competition.
There were three makahiki images carved. Rites were performed for the main makahiki god, Lonomakua. His image, called the akua loa, was a 16 foot pole with a carved human head at the top, and crosspiece hung with sheets of tapa, fern and feather streamers. It was borne around the island, stopping at each land section, ahupua`a, to receive the people’s tribute. As the akua loa moved on, his place was taken by the god of play or pa`ani, and the chief’s kapu over the land was lifted. This image, similar to the akua loa and called the alua pa`ani, was set up to preside over the sports and games participated in by the people of the land and by those who followed the procession of the akua loa. The third god, the akua poko, collected tribute from the makua lands set aside by the chief for his direct support.
Upon the completion of the circuit of the island, and the return of the makahiki gods to the ruling chief’s heiau, rites were again performed for the akua loa, and then the images were dismantled after the chief ceremonially recaptured the island. At that point the chief’s kapu were reimposed upon the maka`ainana for the rest of the year
The major gods of East Polynesia, all-powerful in the Hawaiian pantheon, singly and collectively, were Kane, Kanaloa, Ku and Lono. The ruling chiefs especially worshipped these gods, to protect the kingdom and the land against famine, pestilence, war or rebellion. All other gods were limited in their powers to specific areas or functions. Various attributes of the major gods came to be worshipped for their specific functions. Lono was invoked to ensure peace and productivity. Lono is seen, associated or visualized as clusterinng or dark clouds, as thunder, the partial rainbow, whirlwinds, and even waterspouts. As uncle makua to Pele, Lono is also felt as the earthquake. Lono is the rain that falls from the Kona direction. He is the god of fertility and the god of agriculture. He reestablishes the vitality of the land and nourishes the garden of the people.
Lono is the laua`e, la`i, kukui, `a`ali`i, lama maile, palai, `uala, certain kalo, the black pua`a, `aweoweo, and kumu. These are plants and animals that are representative of Lono, his kino lau or body forms
Lono is the indigenous mana or power of the `aina. He is identified with the stable ongoing interest of the Hawaiian planters. The seasonal rituals to Lono and Ku each year represent the many changes or transformations of political/social power between the maka`ainana and various usurpers, the ruling chiefs.
Lono-i-ka-makahiki, Lono as the god of agriculture and fertility was honored during the Makahiki season and we wish to preserve and perpetuate this timeless tradition of human to environment relationship! Lonoikamakahiki!