The Hawaiian religion emanated from the Polynesian ancestors of the Hawaiians who settled in the fertile and physically remote islands. The animalistic and polytheistic nature of the religion implied that they believed in the supernatural powers associated with the cosmos (Hawaii Guide). In particular, they personified and individualized some strange deities derived from the sea, sky, and earth. Some of the prominent deities include Kāne, Kū, Lono, and Kanaloa and contributed to the unique aspects associated with the religion (Encyclopedia.com). The communication between the gods and the people was facilitated through mediums such as dreams and human prophets.
The religion has designated places of worships led by priests (the Kahuna). The priests act as mediators between the gods and the worshipers. In essence, they are specially trained on the material procedure and rituals associated with the religion (Hawaii Guide). Additionally, the priests are responsible for invoking blessings from the spirits by performing special forms of craft or rituals. Most of the rituals are strict and demanding, and applied based on the specified requirements of the gods. The high priests exert massive socio-political power and are responsible for helping the traditional rulers to gain divine support. Possible misdeeds and community challenges are attributed to the perceived errors in the connection between gods and humans. In such cases, the high priests acted as the intermediaries and constantly sought reprieve from the deities.
The Kahuna wielded massive respect, were well educated on related religious matters, and ranked high up in the social hierarchy. They directed rituals and different forms of worshiping at the open-air centers. The religion describes numerous regulations and restrictions on human relations with self and with the deities (Hawaii Guide). For instance, the aikapu restriction supports the separation of worshipers based on gender affiliations particularly during mealtimes. Besides, the religion supports the segregation of women when they are in their menses. In addition, the faithful are forbade from staying in close proximity with the chiefs and priests wielding spiritual powers among other forms of restrictions.
The designated places of worship include open-air religious gatherings (heiau) and are controlled strictly by local chiefs. Prayers formed an integral component of the Hawaiian religious life and were conducted regularly. The typical postures by the worshipers during prayers included upright sitting postures, with head held high up, and eyes wide open. The posture signified the unique relationship of respect to the gods, priests, and chiefs, and form of self-respect. The heiau played a crucial role in the offering of different types of sacrifices and special forms of prayers.
The American Indian Religious Freedom Act offers adequate protection to the individuals practicing the Hawaiian religion. After the death of King Kamehameha I (religious and feudal head of the Hawaiian religion) in 1819, most of the related ancient practices became obsolete. The religion faced serious “contaminations” and subsequent weaknesses from the increasing spread of Christianity propagated by the Protestants. While some members of the Hawaiian natives still revere the Kapu system of worship, about half of the population are subscribing to Christianity (Encyclopedia.com). Studying and understanding the Hawaiian religious practices and traditions are unique experiences and an introduction to enjoyable cultural practices. Nevertheless, the government outlawed the mainstream Hawaiian religion due to the restrictions on gender relations and strange forms of sacrifices.
Encyclopedia.com. Hawaiian Religion. 2005. Retrieved from https://www.encyclopedia.com/environment/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/hawaiian-religion
Hawaii Guide. Got Religion. 2019 from http://hawaii-guide.info/past.and.present/religion/