You are here
Ka Hoomana Kahiko, Helu 10 / Ancient Religion, Issue 10
The gods of fishermen and the religious practices when going fishing. --- When looking at this topic there are two important items. 1. The gods of the fishermen. 2. The religious practices of going fishing.
1. Gods of the fishermen: Here they are, Kū‘ula, Hinapukuiʻa and their child, ‘Ai‘ai. – These are the gods that their attendants worship. According to some people of old, “These are gods of great power, able to bring fish in.” As for Kū‘ula, Hina, and their child, ‘Ai‘ai, they were actual people. However, Kū‘ula and his wife Hina were fisher-folk; they died and from them came the baby fishes. Their child, ‘Ai‘ai, still lives, here on land. When this child, ‘Ai‘ai, became hungry for fish, he wove a sturdy basket trap and walked to a point at the shore where he stood and said: “Kū‘ula is my father, Hina, my mother; big enough to fish, I remain a novice here in the world.” The mother said, “Hold back such noise, no more! Abide and marry the daughter of Keawekapilimanu, who controls Hawai‘i.
The fishing tributes will come about, my lord.” Hina then said to her husband, “Look, we have but one descendant living in this world, and he is desperate for fish”. “Perhaps we should give fish,” said Kū‘ula. Kū‘ula then spoke again, “Fish of what kind?” Hina answered again, “The Hīnālea fish because our son has a woven fish trap.” “Fill the fish trap until the Hinaleapalaloa overflow the brim.”– ‘Ai‘ai took the woven fish trap and placed it in a tide pool. The fish went into the trap until it was full. That is how ‘Ai‘ai got fish.
2. Religious practices for going to fish: Before one who is thinking to go fishing goes off, he commands everyone in the house to stay quiet and he goes on his way, while praying, perhaps silently within his heart or maybe by saying aloud: “Fishing gods, Kū‘ula in the night, ‘Ai‘ai in the night, and my own dear father, Kīlua, push away the night, emerge into day, I am Hua. Bring forth the fish, big fish, little fish” and then he began to fish. If he is canoe fishing, the fishing hook, grant it to the point of our fish hook, to snag the gills, and snag the opening of the lip, snag the mouth, and snag the eye, no lack, no empty return, the need is for many fish, for our inland friends to eat, in order to trade with each other for taro, for banana, for ‘awa, in order that you, O Deity, may be worshipped, so that the ceremonial food gourd of the gods may be filled with fish, enough for the gourd to become musty and smelly, O Kū, appropriate to you, O Kaneakilolohua; intense sanctity, intense freedom, amazing sustenance to allow the freeing of kapu, the restrictions are completely lifted.” At the end of the prayer, the line and the fish hook are released, set with bait. If the fish is snagged in the eye or the gill like what we saw in the prayer, then that person brags, speaking about the power of his gods.
Here’s another thing, if the fisherman is fishing for octopus, this is how his prayer is when he is going to the octopus grounds: “The fish to the East, there are grounds there, octopus there, pūloa-octopus there, cuttlefish there, ‘āwela fish are there, sand dunes there, akule are there, ‘ōpelu are there, makiawa are there, aku are there, let them come in succession to this land of ours, O Kū, to be heaped in unwieldy mounds,” and that is how the prayers go throughout these islands, this being one prayer. – If there is net fishing, it is a sanction that nothing is eaten until the fish are encircled in the net, at which point the people of the house and the fishermen may eat. When the fish is caught one fish is held for the god, taken to the altar, and placed there. Another place to worship is a rock that is covered with white ‘oloa kapa. That is where to worship Kū‘ula and the other deities. – And that is how I was taught by the people of old. Perhaps now it is clear to us all by these explanations, if true.