WAIPAHU (KHNL) - It marks the Hawaiian new year and it's the season of peace, and a time to honor the god Lono. Inmates at Wahiawa Correctional Facility were able to celebrate Makahiki.
Before the break of dawn, 17 inmates at the minimum security Wahiawa Correctional Facility are hard at work. They construct an altar where offerings including fish, plants and coconuts are placed for the ceremony.
"Many of the offerings today related to bringing life to this land, life to this facility," said organizer Kaleo Patterson.
For four weeks inmates prepare for this special day. As the sun begins to rise, they say prayers, chant and perform ceremonial dances. Celebrating Makahiki allows these inmates to reconnect with their Hawaiian roots and pray for a better future.
"It meant that I wanted to learn more about my culture, just you know, learn about my culture," said inmate Jesse Werner.
"A time of healing, leaving behind the past and just moving forward," said Patterson.
It's the second time inmates at Wahiawa Correctional Facility were given the opportunity to celebrate Makahiki. It's a tradition organizers want to continue through the hard work put in by these 17 inmates.
"They really put it together and I'm real hopeful that they're going to stay together and help develop this program," said Patterson.
This flag represents a break from wars, a time of restoration, and for these inmates it's a symbol of their freedom to celebrate Makahiki.
Some of the plants used as offerings will remain on the grounds as part of a program to cultivate Hawaiian plants.