Hawaiian Islands

Doctrines The names of the major deities in this group show their origins in the southern Polynesian islands. Though the names vary they are very recognisable -Kanaloa, Kane, Ku, Lono. However, the old deities brought from elsewhere tended to give way to new ones distinctively Hawaiian in origin and inspired by the features of the land.
Pele, the fiery goddess of the volcanoes, lived in the burning crater of Kilauea. Human sacrifices were demanded by Pele's special order of priests to appease her anger, and altars to her were placed by lava flows.
The feminine aspect of divinity was more developed here than elsewhere in Polynesia, with a number of goddesses being prominent in rites. In addition to Pele, Laka was associated with the forest, Kihawahine was an influential water spirit, and Haumea was worshipped as the deity of the fertile and prolific earth.

History This most northern groups of the Polynesian islands was probably settled between 1000-1200 Common Era from the Marquesas or Society Islands some 4-5000 kilometres to the south.
European settlement by Christian missionaries, firstly under the American Board of Missions, arrived at the most opportune time, from 1820, as the system of harsh religious practices was being reformed by King Kamehameha 2. Consequently, Christianity became accepted relatively quickly.
Though present much earlier, the Chinese began to arrive in groups from the mid 1800s, bringing their culture, so Chinese religious practices were carried out and clan temples built. Japanese workers arriving in the latter half of the 1800s brought both Shinto and Japanese Buddhism to the islands. a variety of Buddhist sects are now present - Jodo, Jodo Shin-shu, Nichiren, Shingon, Soto and others, with the Honpa Hongwanji being most active. However, many Hawaiian born Chinese and Japanese have adopted Christian beliefs.
Immigrants from many other nations, particularly Portugal, Vietnam, Korea, and the Philippines have added even more to the religious diversity of these islands in the present time.

Symbols In traditional Hawaiian religion public worship took place in a heiau, which consisted of an altar, images and a raised platform. Sometimes this would be surrounded by a stone wall enclosing houses for a drum and other sacred objects. The distinct religious status of the tribal chiefs was depicted through sacred symbols such as the red-feather girdle and the tapa-covered balls on sticks that were carried before the chiefs to demonstrate their unique relationship with the gods.
These indigenous Hawaiian styles have been lost as a consequence of the incursion of European and other cultures. Today the visible symbols of religion are more varied in the Hawaiian islands than in the rest of Polynesia because of settlements from so many places. Religious buildings may take many forms - Christian churches of mainland American pattern with tall spires, or more recently incorporating oriental design where they serve largely Chinese, Japanese or Korean congregations; Buddhist temples, Chines or Japanese, display very different architecture which can be in traditional Chinese or Japanese style, follow Indian-inspired structures, or amalgamations of eastern and western designs. Chinese clan temples and Japanese Shinto shrines add their distinctive forms also.

Adherents Traditional Hawaiian religions are no longer practiced.

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