Contrary to the popular image of a sun-kissed lady swaying her hips to the sound of the ukulele, and its associations with popular modern-day movies, the hula originates from traditional sacred rituals and is steeped in the rich culture and history of Hawaii.
Chanting and dancing were the earliest forms of expression, also known as hula kahiko. Under the direction of a kahuna (priest), hula kahiko was commonly performed in heiau (temples) as a form of worship. It was also used to impart traditions and stories from generation to generation.
Each accompanying ritual and ceremony, usually in chants, paid respect and made reference to specific temples and deities, such as the fiery goddess Pele and her rival, the snowy goddess Poliahu. The words of the chant, along with the precision of the dancers’ movements, evoke a spiritual energy that connects the gods to Man and nature.