Monday, 19 September 2011

Fire Throwing

    In ancient times Hawaiian royalty celebrated special occasions with the oahi (fire-throwing) ceremony which involved throwing flaming embers from high atop the seacliffs on Kauai’s north shore. The lit firebrands were thrown out over the ocean into the strong seaward winds where they would be caught in the updrafts. The pithy hau and papala woods soared through the air as they were lifted and carried by the winds, all the while showering sparks into the Kauai night air.

Catching the Flaming Embers Considered Heroic
When the flaming wood finally made its way to the ocean’s surface far below, waiting there were spectators in canoes who attempted to catch the fiery embers. It was considered heroic to catch one, and those who succeeded would sometimes tattoo themselves with the hot firebrands to commemorate the royal event.
Kauai North Shore Locations Used for Oahi Ceremony
One of the very few places this oahi fire-throwing ceremony took place was from atop the mountain of Makana, now often referred to as Bali Hai from its role in the 1957 movie South Pacific. The other places the fire-throwing ceremony was performed was from atop the nearby seacliff peaks of Makua and Kamaile.

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