Ghosts Next Door

Ghosts Next Door
by Lopaka Kapanui

Sep 23, 2022

Lei 2022

Lei can be woven of several particular flowers, ferns, and the like.

If you know how to arrange them properly, the outcome can be stunning, and the typical lei enthusiast will appreciate the effort. Patience and a good eye are the virtues needed to be a good lei maker, and persons are willing to pay top dollar for an expertly woven lei poʻo or lei ʻāʻī. In fact, becoming a member of an enthusiastic and positive group of lei makers can be a good thing. You can share pointers and techniques and make a bunch of new friends. Of course, it goes without saying that there is also a lot of good food for the potluck. The lei which my mother told me that she could never wear as a young girl was the Hala lei.

The individual pieces of Hala are taken from the fruit of the pandanus tree. The lei itself is made from the keys of the stamen of the fruit after it reaches a stage of maturity. How the lei is woven together is entirely up to the lei maker, but as my mother said, whenever she wore a Hala lei, she would lose time and suddenly awaken as if she had come out of a coma. Once, she was moments away from giving a hula performance as part of a group of dancers from ʻIolani Luahine's class. Moments before she was to go on, someone approached her and placed a Hala lei around her shoulders as a makana. She said that she had forgotten the hula; she couldn't remember any of the motions or steps. When the lei was taken off her shoulders, it was as if she'd come out of a coma. One of the meanings of the word is to elapse as time or to pass away and die. Did time pass or elapse for my mother whenever she wore the hala lei or was she close to death? Who is to say? My mother did say it was the one lei she could never wear. The reasons for such a thing were never revealed or explained. Neither was the concern that this condition or kapu might have been passed down to one of us or any of our issue. I suppose we will have to wait and see.

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