By Navy Region Hawaii Public Affairs
Representatives from the Navy in Hawaii are visiting Hilo on the Big Island to participate in the 52nd annual Merrie Monarch Festival.
The Merrie Monarch Royal Court will greet the USS Chung-Hoon as it arrives pierside today. There will also be a reception and ship tours.
Capt. Mark Manfredi, chief of staff for Navy Region Hawaii; Cmdr. Ryan D. Collins, commanding officer of Chung-Hoon, and Sailors from the ship; and the Pacific Fleet Band will participate in the Merrie Monarch Royal Parade on April 11 followed by a luncheon hosted by the Hilo Council Navy League.
Hula competitions are ongoing from April 8, culminating with the awards on Saturday evening. During the hula kahiko portion of the program, hula halaus will perform ancient hula. Modern hula will be performed during the auana portion of the program.
The Merrie Monarch was started in 1963 by the Hawaii Island Chamber of Commerce and continued by the private Merrie Monarch Festival community organization. According to the Merrie Monarch Festival website, the major purpose of the festival is the perpetuation, preservation and promotion of the art of hula and the Hawaiian culture through education. The festival is considered the world’s premier forum for people of all ages to display their skills and knowledge of the art of ancient and modern hula.
The website explains that: “the annual presentation of the Merrie Monarch Festival has led to a renaissance of the Hawaiian culture that is being passed on from generation to generation. The week-long festival includes art exhibits, craft fairs, demonstrations, performances, a parade that emphasizes the cultures of Hawaii, and a three-day hula competition that has received worldwide recognition for its historic and cultural significance.
“Through the celebration of the Merrie Monarch Festival, thousands of people in Hawaii and throughout the world are learning about the history and culture of Hawaii.
“The Merrie Monarch Festival is dedicated to the memory of King David Kalakaua, known as the Merrie Monarch. King Kalakaua came to the throne of the Hawaiian Kingdom in 1874 and reigned until his death in 1891. He was a patron of the arts, especially music and dance.
The website notes; “Kalakaua restored Hawaiian cultural traditions that had been suppressed for many years under missionary teachings. He advocated a renewed sense of pride in such things as Hawaiian mythology, medicine, chant and hula.
“Ancient Hawaiians had no written language, but chant and hula served to record such things as genealogy, mythology, history and religion. Hula, the dance of Hawaiian people, was one means by which culture was expressed and passed down through generations.”
The 2015 Merrie Monarch hula competition will be broadcast on local television channel KFVE.
(For more information about the 2015 Merrie Monarch Festival events, visit http://www.merriemonarch.com/the-festival. Watch next week’s Ho`okele for coverage of the Navy’s participation in the 2015 Merrie Monarch Festival events.)