Hoomana I Ka Ia / Religious Practices Concerning Fish

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Hoomana I Ka Ia / Religious Practices Concerning Fish

To the best and foremost of the Hawaiian people; Greetings to you: Do place these old things in your free space so that the young people living in our part of the world from Hawai‘i to Kaua‘i will see it.

They should know of the ignorant religious practices of the people of old at a time when the ancients prepared to go fishing. If fishing was to begin on a canoe, strict adherence to kapu had been observed; in the evening the pig and chicken was put in the oven, they would sleep through the night, the pig and the chicken were then eaten; men and women ate, however, menstruating women did not eat, it was not pleasing to the fishing gods if one was unclean. When the feasting was proceeding well, the family gods took notice, drawn to the murmured prayer. The kalokalo is a mumbled prayer that is not clearly heard.

This is how the prayer goes, listing the names of every fish.

Family gods from east to west

To Kūlāuka, to Kūlākai, to Kū‘ula, to ‘Ai‘ai, to

Hinapukui‘a, to Hinapuku‘ai, and you shall eat, and I shall give

Hāmākua of the ‘ūlili birds

Perching there on the cliff

The fisherman will puff and blow

Wanting, the Uhu that does not shy away in the sea

The jagged-toothed puhi

Appeal to the residents of the place

The ‘anae that pays attention shrinks away

The small ‘ololā fish lies in the water

The uouoa stays near the shore

The great he‘e of Ha‘aluea

The sweet-eyed kole dwells in the cavern

Swimming about with the tattooed Manini

The run of the hou

The large kūmū longs for the lehua

The red-skinned ‘āwela

The little kalekale with long patience

I am an ‘alae bird, to become an ʻōʻio

You are an uku for all things good

The umaumalei is chief

An ʻoeʻoe out at sea

The aku with its ravaging dance

The undulating sweep of the ‘ōpelu

The mālolo that leaps the sea mounds

Arching low his leaps

The crooked form of the puhiki‘i

And the ‘āiheihe as well

The sharp-beaked a‘u

The sharp-sided head of the ‘ahi of Kalaʻe

One, two, the lure passes over the dorsal fin

Profound kapu, profound freedom of kapu

In the name of Nonohua, let it be free of kapu

This is the fish prayer with which the people of old mistakenly worshiped, not knowing that Jehovah is the one who established the fish, being for mankind.


Puaho‘owali, Lahaina, Nov. 6, 1866

[We did not intend to print this prayer to the family gods as a way to teach our youth this useless activity of our ancestors, since we all know the lifestyle of this time, which is not the same as the past. We are presenting this without pretense so that we may all know of the true foolishness of the prayers of our forebearers.




(click image for original Hawaiian text)

Ka Nupepa Kuokoa, November 24, 1866
, Book: 5, Number: 47, Page: 4