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Monday, March 17, 2008

Conch Shell Blowing In Hawaii

Aloha everybody and welcome back to our Hawaii photo of the Week!
If you are interested in Hawaii's ocean life and seeing photos of the Hawaii green sea turtle, you probably liked our recent post with tips for watching the turtles in Hawaii. Here is what
Honolulu based photographer Jennifer Crites selected for today's Hawaii photo. The photo is closely connected to ancient Hawaiian traditions and culture: a Hawaiian conch shell blower.
Those of you who have stayed at one of our Hawaii Beach hotels probably experienced the sound of the conch shell first hand when the tiki torches got lit at sunset and a guy or girl dressed in typical ancient Hawaiian outfit was running from torch to torch and also blowing the conch shell at certain locations. It always attracts a crowd of visitors, naturally the kids are most impressed and follow the conch shell blower around the hotel.

Hawaiian man blowing the conch shellBlowing the 'Pu' (pronounced 'poo'), which is the Hawaiian name for conch shell, marks these days very often the official beginning of a ceremony, whether at a Hawaiian wedding or the start of a Hawaiian luau. The conch shell blowing for a luau after sunset is actually the only exception when the shell is blown after sunset. Traditionally, blowing of the Pu, is a deep part of the Hawaiian culture, has various meanings. Today the "Pu" is used to announce the opening of the Hawaii State Legislature, a great way to keep the Hawaiian culture alive.

Hawaiian man holding conch shell
Did you know that the sound of the conch shell the Hawaiian people use can be heard over two miles away? In ancient times the blowing of the 'Pu' was used to communicate with each other, such as when people on canoes asked permission to land. A certain number of blows on the conch shell by the people on land would mean permission or denial to land. It would then be returned from those on shore by them blowing the conch shell back with a certain number of blows. Permission to land avoided possible death, making the Pu a vital instrument for safety. I found on a Hawaiian site that the meaning of the number of blows on the conch shell is a secret and won't be published for that reason.

I found the following legend about the 'Pu' on a Hawaiian website. It said that "the mythical Menehune, an ancient tiny people, that are believed to have lived throughout the Hawaiian islands were considered god-like by the Polynesian settlers in Hawaii. When the new settlers blew a conch shell to "control" the little gods, the Menehune stole the special conch and kept the Hawaiians up at nights with constant concerts, till a brave Hawaiian retrieved the stolen conch shell"! True or not, but when you visit Bishop Museum in Honolulu that very conch shell from the story is on display there!

Do you have any stories about the conch shell or the little menehune to share with our Best Hawaii Vacation blog visitors, we would love to hear from you. If you tried blowing the conch shell on your Hawaii vacation, how did you do?
Mahalo and aloha, Pua Hawaii Vacations

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