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... A perfect expression of Hawaiian hospitality, the 'aha'aina or lu'au signifies a celebration of what the Hawaiian spirit and lifestyle are all about - an abundance of good food, laughter, and music - shared with those you love.
Historically, the lu'au was a celebration to the gods giving thanks for having survived long and often arduous ocean voyages. It was a time of much feasting and praying, based on traditions from the homeland. Men and women ate separately and some of the foods were kapu (taboo) for the women to eat.
The appropriate attire for a lu'au is one's best aloha shirt, mu'umu or holoku (long dresses). These are usually very colorful casual garments. Flower leis abound. Ladies wear flowers in their hair. Children are very much a part of the lu'au as there are always
many aunties, uncles, tutus and tutukanes (grandmas and grandpas) to care for the little ones.
A musical group, usually comprised of ukulele, guitar, steel guitar and bass, welcomes arriving guests with favorite Hawaiian songs. Later guests and family members offer graceful hulas and mele hau'oli (happy songs).
The highlight of any lu'au is the pua'a kalua (pig) prepared in the imu (underground oven). Although preparations commence the day before the lu'au, it is felt that the real beginning is the uncovering of the 'imu and the emergence of the cooked pig, a facinating ritual to watch.
Traditionally, Hawaiians sat on the ground on woven lau hala (Pandanus leaf) mats and ate the food with their hands from hand carved, polished wooden bowls. Today, one may see long low tables with pillows or grass for seats or standard height tables under large attractive tents. Talbes are usually covered with white butcher paper and adorned with long, shiny green ti leaves and masses of fresh plumeria, hibiscus, and bougainvillea. A stage is placed just inside for entertainment and dancing.
A typical place setting may consist of a bowl of poi, a small condiment plate with pipikaula, Hawaiian rock salt, an Hawaiian chili pepper and a stalk of green onion. Another plate would consist of poke (raw seasoned seafood) opihi, raw crab and other seafood. Along side rests a ti leaf with a piece of sweet potato, haupia (coconut pudding) or kulolo (taro pudding). Whole pineapples and coconut cake are placed in the middle of the tables about every fifth seat. After the guests are seated, the main dishes are served in bowls or on wooden plates. these include: lomolomi salmon, chicken lu'au, chicken long rice, kalua pig, and laulau. Cold beer, mai tais, and soft drinks accompany the feast.
Whether the lu'au is for six hundred, or a poi supper for six, as long as flowers, music and food are plentiful, your lu'au will be a success.