What Does Aloha Mean to You?

April 1, 2016, 2:41 PM HST
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Photo credit: Darde Gamayo.

Photo credit: Darde Gamayo.

Aloha? Aloha! Aloooha….

Once, I was asked what the word Aloha meant to me.  After much contemplation, I realized that the word “Aloha” defines us as a people, not specifically just those of Hawaiian descent, but all of us who call Hawai’i home.

Aloha is a word that can immediately transport someone from whereever they may be on this planet to a beach, lined with swaying palm trees that dance a graceful hula to the rhythm of the trade winds that caress them while the ocean’s waves gently lap at their feet as they sip on a cool umbrella tropical drink. Those who live here chuckle at that typical cookie cutter image of life here in Hawai’i.

We know that one need not look hard to find the true meaning or feeling of Aloha during this time of year, Merrie Monarch time.

As Aunty Luana Kawelu, President of the Merrie Monarch Festival, stated, “Aloha is alive, it is the unconditional sharing not just between people, but between halau that are here to ‘compete’ against each other. The genuine desire to help each other without expectations attached, help without worry of what one will get back in return. Aloha is the genuine love for each other.”


Visitors who come from near or afar immediately feel “something,” something that they cannot express adequately with words. It is a calming acceptance by those they come into contact with, the genuineness of the people who live here, the fact that no matter where you come from you are welcome here. You are invited not to just feel or embrace the Aloha, but to taste it, speak it, live it, and it is hoped that you will take it back with you when you leave and not just remember it, instead maybe implement it into your life, like the practice of paying it forward.


One of my uncles just told me that if every one of us who comes to Merrie Monarch lived our lives like we were all part of a halau, living and embracing the principle of aloha every day, what an amazing world this would be.

Aloha: not just a word, not just a feeling, it’s a way of life.

As you continue to enjoy the festivities of Merrie Monarch think, what does Aloha mean to you?


This article is part of a weekly BigIslandNow.com series by KAPA Hawaiian FM personality Darde Gamayo.

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