Subaru Joins Merrie Monarch Festival Celebration
April 11, 2008
In Hawaii, there are hula festivals and then there are HULA FESTIVALS. The Merrie Monarch Festival is the pre-eminent hula festival in Hawai’i, and people come to Hilo from around the world to witness and participate in this one-of-a-kind celebration of Hawai’ian tradition. The annual festival is dedicated to the memory of King David Kalakaua, known as the Merrie Monarch, and is considered the world's premier forum for people of all ages to display their skills and knowledge of the art of traditional and modern hula. The week-long festivities include art exhibits, craft fairs, demonstrations, performances, a parade that emphasizes the cultures of Hawai’i, and a three-day hula competition that receives worldwide recognition for its historic and cultural significance.
In support of the Festival, its mission, and the community of Hilo, the Subaru Telescope joined other members of the Mauna Kea Observatories Outreach Committee (MKOOC) in the Merrie Monarch Festival Royal Parade. The parade occurred on a beautiful and sunny Saturday morning on April 5, 2008, and included a diverse group of organizations and participants, ranging from local dignitaries to school marching bands to pa’u riders (horsewomen). Over 100 groups joined in the parade winding through the streets of Hilo sharing music and dance, culture and entertainment, and good cheer and warm aloha. The crew from MKOOC was over 40 strong with 16 people representing Subaru. Everyone walked proudly behind our banner, waving to friends and neighbors, sharing candy with children, and having an all around good time. We were warmly received with cheers and applause, and enthusiastically praised for our participation in the parade and commitment to the local community through educational programs.
For interest, note that our parade banner depicted King Kalakaua and an old-fashioned telescope along with the names and logos of participating MKOOC members. King Kalakaua was a worldly and progressive monarch and a major patron of the arts, especially music and dance. Aside from almost single-handedly restoring many of the nearly extinct cultural traditions of the Hawai’ian people, he showed an interest in science and astronomy and expressed a desire to see an observatory established in Hawai’i. He was one of the guiding forces to why Hawai’i is now home to the world’s leading telescopes including Subaru. In addition, King Kalakaua was the first monarch to circumnavigate the globe, visiting with country leaders in Asia and Europe. In 1881, the King sailed to the Empire of Japan where he met with the Emperor Meiji to discuss diplomatic ties, cultural exchange, and modernization. The close relations between the two heads of state led to the emigration of the first Japanese to Hawai’i a few years later.
The Merrie Monarch Festival is committed to: 1) perpetuating the traditional culture of the Hawai’ian people; 2) developing and augmenting a living knowledge of Hawai’ian arts and crafts through workshops, demonstrations, exhibitions and performances of the highest quality and authenticity; 3) reaching those who might not otherwise have the opportunity to participate; and, 4) enriching the future lives of all of Hawai’i's children. Leading up to the Festival, students are taught the art of hula, the meaning of Hawai’ian chants and songs, the Hawai’ian language, the making of Hawai’ian clothing and crafts, and the history of the Hawai’ian people. Through this year-round learning process, students gain a knowledge and appreciation of the unique harmony and balance the Hawai’ian people used to maintain with their island environment. The chants, songs and dance tell stories of the Hawai’ians' relationship with nature-the birds and fish, trees and flowers, mountains, oceans, rivers, wind, rain and Hawai’i's active volcanoes.
Through the celebration of the Merrie Monarch Festival, thousands of people worldwide are learning about the history and culture of Hawai’i. Subaru is a proud supporter of the Festival and a proponent of its commitment towards education and cultural preservation. The people of Subaru look forward to participating in next year’s event.