Native Hawaiians want ancient burial practice resurrected

Native Hawaiians want ancient burial practice resurrected

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow)

Ancient Hawaiians took the bones or iwi of deceased loved ones, wrapped them in kapa, and placed them in lauhala baskets. Mahealani Cypher and Rocky Kaluhiwa want the old practice to be common practice.

"We have been suggesting this idea for some time now," Cypher said.

The Senate Judiciary committee passed a bill Thursday that says the preparation and burial of remains in traditional Hawaiian ways does not abuse the corpse or violate state law. Cypher said the old burial method could save a family a large expense.

"Number one, it's cheaper. You don't have to buy a very expensive casket. Number two, it takes less space in the cemetery," she said.

Kaluhiwa said administrators for and regulators of crematories, cemeteries and mortuaries are on board.

"We talked to one cemetery, and they talked about maybe someday doing a Hawaiian section," Kaluhiwa said. "If you own your own property it's legal to bury on your own property."

"From my point of view, how we take care of and how we honor our dead is as broad and as wide as the human experience," said Ken Ordenstein of Ordenstein Funerals.

Ancient Hawaiians treated the bodies of their deceased with respectful ceremony. Kaluhiwa said the same would apply if those old ways were resurrected.

"Being that I'm on the Aha Moku Council representing the island of Oahu, everybody I spoke to about it thought it was a wonderful idea," she said.

"It doesn't have to be limited to Hawaiians," Cypher said. "It should be an alternative that anybody can have that option."

An option that goes beyond the grave, as we know it.

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