A Tree Planting Ceremony at the Honolulu Myohoji in Nuuanu—a Healing Spot in Ancient Hawaii

A Tree Planting Ceremony at the Honolulu Myohoji in Nuuanu—a Healing Spot in Ancient Hawaii

Have you heard about the Ohia Lehua, which is a tree that is native to the Hawaiian Islands?   In Hawaiian, the name of its flowers is “lehua,” which means “hair.” The tree blooms with fine and beautiful flowers. While many of the flowers are red, there is also orange, yellow, white and so on. There is also a love story about the Ohia Lehua.

Long ago, there was a young man named Ohia and a young woman by the name of Lehua. They were deeply in love. It just so happened that that one day, Pele, the goddess of the volcano on the island of Hawaii, fell in love at first sight with Ohia. Pele intensely courted him, but Ohia, who loved Lehua, flatly refused her. Angered by having been rejected, she changed Ohia into an ugly tree, and she severed the relations between the lovers. The grief-stricken Lehua cried day after day. The forests were shrouded by rain and sun could not be seen.   While the deities, who sympathized with her, they could not remove Pele’s curse, so they changed Lehua into a flower that bloomed on Ohia. In this way did the tree called the Ohia Lehua come to be. It is a story about the realization of eternal love. (There is also the story that Pele reflected on her actions and transformed Lehua into the flower.) Even today the Hawaiians say that it will rain if too many Lehua flowers are picked. It is regarded as a sacred flower.

The Ohia Lehua is a symbol of the island of Hawaii. The fact is that it grows profusely around the Kilauea volcano. It is a plant with strong life-energy, which is the first to appear after a lava flow. That inherently strong Ohia Lehua was afflicted with a disease from about 2010 and it is in danger of withering one after another. Concerned organizations are taking measures to stop the spread of the disease. While the state and federal agencies are quickly taking steps, the course toward its eradication is difficult.

The Kumu Hula, who is teaching hula at Honolulu Myohoji, had been worried about the decline of the Ohia Lehua for some time. She has knitted sacred Lehua lei many times and greatly respects the flower. “A lei is not decoration.” For hula, since the goddess of hula freely resides in the plant, by placing that plant on the body, the dancers join with the goddess, and they themselves become a sacred altar. It is also placed on the body to protect the dancers from bad energy. The Nuuanu area was, from ancient times, a healing spot where good energy flowed. Nuuanu, where Myohoji is located, is a picturesque site of Hawaii and a sanctuary with breezes of fresh verdure from various Hawaiian plants on its premises beginning with a Bodhi tree.

At the planting ceremony, after the chanting of sutras in the worship hall by Rev. Yamamura, the Hula Kahiko offering was made. Kaliko-san sang the solemn chant. Eight of the advanced students danced an austere hula for the pacification of the spirit. And later four Ohia Lehua seedlings were planted. Red and yellow flowers will be blooming in the future.

Compiled by Rev. Yamamura from an article in the March 12, 2019 edition of Nikkan-San Translated by Mr. Dean Makinodan.







植樹式では、本堂でrev. 山村が経を唱えた後、フラカヒコの奉納が行われた。厳粛なチャントを詠うカリコさん。生徒の上級者8人が厳かに、魂を鎮めるように奉納フラを舞った。そしてオヒアレフアの4本の苗を植樹。赤や黄色の花が咲く予定だ。

日刊サン新聞 2019年3月12日の記事より