Honolulu Festival kicks off, cultural lessons abound

The 20th anniversary of the Honolulu Festival provided a heart-pounding experience for more than a thousand Hawaii school students Friday as taiko drummers took center stage at the Hawaii Convention Center.

It’s just one of many events happening for the festival this weekend. “What we do is provide the keiki with a chance to experience first-hand some of the diverse cultures of the Pacific Rim,” said Lenny Andrew, Honolulu Festival spokesperson.

But the lessons of the Honolulu Festival go far beyond fun events. Another event Friday featured a native dance performance from Alaska.

“All our songs are about something, like your drum, wondering where your drum is at, and again, it’s about continuing tradition and passing it on to the next generation,” said Loren Anderson of the Alaska Native Heritage Center.

The practice is much like Native Hawaiian culture, a fact not lost on Anderson. “Being grounded in culture is so important,” she said. “I can imagine talking to our Polynesian cousins out here. Being grounded in culture gives you such a sense of pride, belonging to a bigger thing than you.

“We’re not just performing for you or the TV, or for the guests at the Honolulu Festival, but we are also always performing for our ancestors who are watching us from above,” Anderson added.

This weekend’s Honolulu Festival is about many different cultured presented with world champion flair, like the Chinese dragon dance.

“In Chinese culture, the Dragon symbolizes power and dignity,” explained V.C. Chu, Taipei Economic and Cultural Office. “They are believed to bring good luck to people and the community.”

Click here for a full schedule of events.

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