By: Kimo Jenkins, Director, Product Development & Implementation Cultural Guide
The flower and the lei, the main component and the finished product, are an entwined duo of Hawaiian beauty and grace. The concept of this special event is to provide an interactive encounter; first of the Hawaiian cultural, followed by a community outreach recognition event.
At an appropriate location at the hotel, participants are introduced to the art of lei making by a learned member of the Hawaiian community known as a kūpuna kako‘o. The kūpuna will explain various floral lei making techniques and styles – kui (stringing), haku (wrapping), and wili (entwining) – as well as provide materials and instruction in allowing the participants to create 2-3 different types of lei. The kui style will be used in making a head or neck lei, the haku and wili styles (more advanced) used to make a bracelet and anklet.
Additionally, participants will be taught how to make candy lei – a clear cellophane or plastic mesh tube sectioned off with tied ribbon. This clever twist to traditional flower lei is popular during the spring school graduation season – proud parents and friends giving and deserving graduates receiving flower lei is a time-honored island tradition. The candy lei are popular with elementary and intermediate school keiki.
Cultural Connection is a free-flowing event where participants may come and go as they please. Duration is anticipated between 2-3 hours. Everyone is invited to both create a lei for themselves as well as lei to be shared within our island community. Afterwards, the lei will be distributed to a local hospital or long-term care facility (flower lei), as well as area schools (candy lei). If desired, participants can board transportation and deliver the lei themselves.
Another aspect or portion of this event can a session on tropical floral arrangements, using the same premise as the lei making – introduction to the art-form, techniques, finished product – with the finished arrangements being delivered to appropriate community organizations.
If a Hospital or Long Term Care Unit is selected as a charitable recipient, the lei will be shared with patients and nurses alike. Additionally, it is suggested that participants bring a small stuffed animal to give to the children in the hospital’s pediatric section.
Photo from Hawai‘i Tourism Authority.