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Hawaii : Luau

Shaka man! Welcome to the Luau!

Se conoce como luau a una gran comilona de cerdo asado en horno Polinesio - básicamente enterrado con piedras a 300C durante 8h - hula y danzas de fuego. Todos los hoteles organizan este tipo de evento, al que la mayoría de los turistas asisten - como mínimo una vez - durante su estancia en Hawaii. 

La mayoría se va sin entender que el luau representa la ruptura de los Hawaiianos con sus sistema tradicional y que fue creado hace relativamente poco, cuando en 1819, el rey Kamehameha II (hijo de aquel que unificó las islas en un reino) decidió abolir las reglas que prohibían que las mujeres disfrutaran en estos eventos (no podían asistir, ni cocinar, ni probar el plátano, el cerdo o según que pescado).

Bienvenidos... Al despiporre Hawaiian Style!

Before contact with the western world, Hawaiians called their important feasts an 'aha'aina (‘aha – gathering and ‘aina – meal). These feasts marked special occasions — such as reaching a significant life milestone, victory at war, the launching of a new canoe or a great endeavor.

They believed in celebrating these occasions with their friends and families.

Historically, the food and practices observed at an 'aha 'aina were rich with symbolism and the entire event was designed to unite the participants, similar to the way the old Hawaiians braided strands of coconut husk fiber, or sennit, into thicker 'aha cords and rope. Certain foods represented strength while the names or attributes of other foods related to virtues or goals the participants hoped to achieve.

There were also certain foods that were off limits to commoners and women. Such delicacies included moi (exquisite tasting near-shore reef fish), pork, and bananas were forbidden to all but the Alii (chiefs of ancient Hawai'i) including the great King Kamehameha. Men and women also ate separately during meals.

In 1819 King Kamehameha II ended traditional religious practices. To celebrate this event he feasted with women to signify major societal changes. Shortly after, the term luau gradually replaced 'aha 'aina. Luau, in Hawaiian is actually the name of the taro leaf, which when young and small is cooked like spinach. The traditional luau was eaten on the floor over lauhala (leaves of the hala tree were weaved together) mats. Luau attendees enjoyed poi (staple of Polynesian food made from the corm of the taro plant), dried fish, and pork cooked in the traditional Hawaiian imu (underground oven), sweet potatoes, bananas and everything was eaten with one’s fingers.

While the sun sets, the party warms up on free-bar MaiTais

The luau pig is about to be taken out of the imu (underground oven), first event of the afternoon.

Tourist Style.

Digging deep.

Unwrapping the pig, smoked on its own fat & hot volcanic stones.

Some tropical leaves, for flavour.

Here it is! Say 1,2,3 and we carry back!

All you can eat AND drink - Welcome to America!

With full plates and full glasses, we are all set for the show to start.

High speed hula, drums and hips shaking all at a time.

Hula as if it was the Merrie Monarch Festival. This festivity was created in 1963 in Hilo. It actually honors King David Kalakaua (1863-91) who fought hard to revive Hawaiian culture and arts, including hula, which had been forbidden by missionaries for almost 70 years.

Hula is now very popular all over the world and particularly, in Japan, where your average gym (i.e. like mine) offers Hula classes as it's done for belly dance.

Some Polynesian songs...

… and poi.

Finally, the fire dance!!

Yeah! The guy was on fire - in all senses.

The food was actually quite nice, but we felt really bad during the day after. Probably we ate too much or they put some artificial smoke in the pig's meat, because that thirst was… Unbelievable!

Either way, it was cheaper than the cheapest in Oahu and conveniently held at our hotel :)

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