ʻIhi

1. vs. Sacred, holy, majestic, dignified; treated with reverence or respect. hō.ʻihi

a. To treat thus; to hallow.

b. Tapa or pandanus fitted into a hoop and placed on the head of an attendant (kahu), serving as a holder for a food container from which the chief or favorite child was served, a means of bestowing high honor.

2. n. Wood sorrels (Oxalis, all species), perennial weedy herbs, creeping or not, and bearing cloverlike leaves and yellow, white, red, or pink bell-shaped flowers. The plants have a pleasant sour taste due to oxalic acid. (Neal 473–4.) Known to some as Portulaca spp. (PPN kisi.)

3. See hue wai ʻihi.

I remember Uncle Sol K. Bright (composer of “Hawaiian Cowboy” and “Sophisticated Hula”), whenever he said the pule (and it was always in Hawaiian) he would use the word ʻihiʻihi quite often and his low voice combined with the ʻokina and repetitiveness just made it resound in my mind. Back then (late 80s early 90s…he passed away in 1992) ʻihiʻihi (a reduplication of ʻihi) was a new word to me. I never learned it, never used it. Until I finally looked it up. It meant sacred and holy. So appropriate for a pule. He was exalting the Lord.

Remember hoʻo- the causative? Ho/hō- works the same way. So what do you think hōʻihi means? To cause sacredness. To DO dignity. In other words it means “to respect”.

And I think to myself, what a great way to say respect. When we respect someone we are, in essence, dignifying the person. We are exalting the person. One might counter by saying, but we should only “cause sacredness” to God. I will beg to differ. We should treat everyone with Godliness. To me, each human being is sacred. Some are a bigger challenge to me in that area than others, but nonetheless, each person, big or small deserve hōʻihi. Respect.

When I think about my kupuna, they had/have a lot of hōʻihi for people, always kind and joyful in the face of challenging people. Never raising their voices. Never criticizing others. They just concentrate on their own circle of concern and took care of their own kuleana. That shows respect for others AND respect for self. Hōʻihi. ʻIhi.

ʻIhi ke kua, meha ke alo; ka hua i ka umauma hōʻike ʻia – Sacred is the back, silent the front; the word on the chest, reveal (an expression often used by chiefs. No one stands behind and no one else is here in my presence, so deliver your message to me).

Keauhou i ka ʻihi kapu – Keauhou, where strict kappa were observed (Keauhou Kona. this was the place where many of the highest chiefs resided).

Copyright: 2015 – Liana Iaea Honda. All rights reserved. All versions of He Momi e Lei ai”, in its entirety, past and present, is the property of L. K. I. Honda. Reproduction and use of any kind other than the sharing of this website is prohibited. Alteration to the original content in any form is prohibited in every and any instance, and use in any other variant is prohibited without written consent of the author. Adress inquiries to: hemomi [at] gmail.com. Definitions and wise sayings are from: Hawaiian Dictionary by Pukui and Elbert, 1986. ʻŌlelo Noʻeau – Hawaiian Proverbs & Poetical Sayings by Mary Kawena Pukui, 1983.

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