1. vs. Fragrant, sweet-smelling, perfumed; fragrance, perfume (preceded by ke). Fig., esteemed chiefly. Mea ʻala, ointment, perfume. Ke ʻala kūpaoa, a strong heady fragrance. Ke ʻala punia, a fragrance so strong that it causes dizziness. Cf. ʻaʻala. hō.ʻala To perfume. (PNP kala.)
Esteemed chiefly. Imagine that. ʻAla not only means sweet smelling. Figuratively (and you know the Hawaiian language is steeped in figurative language so always be on guard) it means esteemed chiefly.
Surely, a good portion of you realize the reason ʻala is today’s word is because yesterday we (a collective we of the world) lost an esteemed chiefly one of the hula realm (and many other realms as well) — Leinaʻala Kalama Heine, affectionately known as ʻAla.
Images that flash through my mind stem back to the days of Brothers Cazimero performances and her hula, so graceful, kolohe at times, refreshing, light, stunning. Bedecked in lei, she was ʻala in all ways. I recall her speaking to students at Kamehameha, a second home of sorts as that was where her hālau (Nā Pualei o Likolehua) practiced each week. Everything she said had mana. And then there was her time on the beach during paddling season. Sitting there on the sand, enjoying her own family and her canoe family, the sun, water. And her times spent as a haumana, always learning and then rallying the hula community to stand up, stand tall, chant, dance for our people, welcome the sun, pay honor to our mauna.
While I could go on. And on. I won’t because it will never be enough.
E lei nō au i ko ʻala – I will wear your fragrance as a lei.