Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Summer Festivals

There were two major festivals in Kakaako during the early summer months. Both were religious in nature. One was the Japanese Bon Dance and the other the Portuguese Catholic festival celebrating the Feast of the Holy Ghost.

My Japanese friends had told me that the Bon Dance was a ritual that honors the spirits of deceased family members as well as an outward showing of being a Buddhist.

Lighted paper lanterns created a special aura as women dressed in colorful kimonos and men wearing something like today's hapi coats danced to the rhythm of Japanese music. The drums were almost hypnotic.

I was very fortunate in having a Japanese friend whose parents not only loaned me the proper dress worn by the young boys but also taught me the steps so that I could join the swaying crowd. My regret is that I can't even remember my friend’s name or that of his parents. That is a shame of all shames.

A three-day carnival atmosphere climaxed a seven-week vigil of the Holy Ghost. Festivities started Friday night with a procession from the Kewalo Holy Ghost Shrine on Queen Street to St. Agnes Church, on the corner of Kawaiahao and Kamani Streets, where the parish priest and his altar boys joined the procession back to the Holy Ghost Shrine. The priest then blessed the meat, bread, sweet bread and wine that were to be delivered to members the next day.

Once the blessing was accomplished it was carnival time. There were games for the kids such as knocking down the wooden milk bottles on a table, a fish booth and bursting balloons with darts.
The big attraction of course was Bingo! Prizes were primarily boxes of food donated by local stores and watermelons donated by the farmers. I can't remember whether each game cost a nickel or a dime.

The major event of the festival was held Sunday morning when hundreds of Catholics formed a long procession to St. Agnes Church and a special Mass. Leading the procession was a military Color Guard and the Royal Hawaiian Band.

During Mass the priest crowned a young girl as queen of the Feast of the Holy Ghost and bestowed on her, for that one day only, the authority to bless the people in the community. As the procession returned to the Holy Ghost Shrine she continuously blessed the hundreds of people lining the streets.

Standing on the porch of the Shrine at the end of the procession she blessed all the people present for the celebration. Her silver royal wand had a dove on the end.

Before the festivities came to an end there was an auction of donated goods, produce and handmade items from sweetbread baked with silver dollars on top to crocheted lace. The evening climaxed with a raffle. I once won a very young pig; perhaps I should say piglet.

I don't remember how much it cost, but I do know that you had to pay to be a member of the Kewalo Holy Ghost Society. My father was a member and for some still unknown reason I, too, was a member.

Why was I a member in addition to my father? I don't know. This I do know. One evening while having supper in the kitchen my mother was pouring coffee for all of us when she told my father that she was going to drop me from the Holy Ghost Society membership. No sooner had the words come out of her mouth she poured hot coffee on me. My mother continued my membership.

It was a couple of years later while I was in the first or second grade and was playing under the house with several other kids when I fell and broke my left arm at the elbow. It seems that at the very moment that I slipped, my mother was in the parlor telling relatives that she was going to cancel my membership in the Holy Ghost Society. Is this coincidence? My mother continued paying for my membership until I got married in 1945.

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