Behind The Rainbow
Why do Hawaiian skies put on the most amazing light shows?
(page 4 of 4)
The Hawaiian Connection
Kimokeo Kapahulehua stands at the edge of Wailea Beach, dressed in traditional garb. Across the water, dark clouds persist above Kahoolawe, though the sun is finally up. Soon two-dozen canoes will round the point and await Kapahulehua’s signal to approach, the ceremonial start to a day of workshops for the Hawaiian Chamber of Commerce. As he raises his conch to welcome the canoes, a rainbow appears and brightens to vivid intensity. It will linger until all twenty-four crews pull their vessels up onto the sand.
Cecilia Fernandez Romero and I were at the beach that day in 2010. The photo she captured of that moment became the cover of our November-December issue. Kahu Lyons Naone was there, as well. Nearly two years later, he reminds me of that morning. “It was not a good day for rainbows,” he says, “but the rainbow appeared. That was a sign from the ancestors that what we were doing was proper.”
Hawaiians have mixed views about rainbows. In such respected source books as Olelo Noeau and Nana I Ke Kumu, rainbows sometimes foretell misfortune, presage a death, or announce that a chief is journeying, watched over by the gods.
“It depends on when it happens,” says Naone, “and what the person is looking for. Many times the rainbow is a hoailona, or omen, that the ancestors or gods favor what you did or plan to do.”
Naone’s Hawaiian grandmother trained him in traditional practices almost from the time he learned to walk. Today he teaches Hawaiian healing around the world. In Austria, a men’s group asked him to design a tattoo to represent their commitment as spiritual warriors — with a rainbow to show the connection between indigenous and nonindigenous cultures.
“Physicists talk about the scientific reasons Hawaii is full of rainbows,” says Naone. “We see rainbows as a symbol; we are a bridge to the rest of the world for spirituality and healing.”