51st Annual Merrie Monarch

Kauanoe Gusman, Reporter

Hula hālau all around have been prepping and practicing their hearts out for this time of the year: Merrie Monarch! Expect Hilo to be busy and crowded because Merrie Monarch week of 2014 if officially here. During Merrie Monarch week, people come from all around, either to sell their goods at the craft fair or to take part in watching the cultural competition.

Merrie Monarch serves to perpetuate the Hawaiian culture and art of hula. It also serves as a remembrance of the Merrie Monarch himself, King Kalākaua, who brought back the Hawaiian traditions after it had been taken away due to the missionary teachings. Year-round, hālau kumu teach their haumāna hula, chants, songs, and much more.  In Merrie Monarch there are always categories for kahiko (ancient) and ʻauana (modern) dances. All of the hula portions of the festival start at 5:45 P.M. and are located within the Edith Kanakaʻole Stadium in Hilo. The hōʻike will be on the 23rd, Miss Aloha Hula on the 24th, group kahiko on the 25th, and group ʻauana on the 26th.

This year there are many hālau participating, even three groups all the way from California. There are also a total of 13 entries for the Miss Aloha Hula competition. Rianne Masuda from Hālau Nā Lei Hiwahiwa ‘O Kuʻualoha has been excited for weeks and is just counting down the short amount of time left before she is dancing on the stage, for real. As an event that has started all the way in 1963, the Merrie Monarch Festival is still popular today. As kanaka maoli, it is important that Hawaiians embrace and preserve their traditions, and Merrie Monarch serves as a huge part of doing so.