In Hawaiian mythology, Laka is the alluring goddess of Hula. In the Hawaiian language, Laka means gentle and to attract. She is known for being the creator of the esteemed dance and art form, Hula. Hula was a way for the ancient Hawaiians to tell their stories with movement and mele (song / chant). Through Hula, the native Hawaiians were able to pass down their history from generation to generation. Laka is also known for being the goddess of fertility and reproduction.
It is said that Laka is what causes the movement while the dancer is performing. According to legend, the first hula occurred when Pele, the goddess of fire and volcanoes, wanted her sisters to entertain her with song and dance. Only Pele’s youngest sister, Hi‘iaka, would comply. Hi‘iaka performed gracefully and powerfully for Pele to the amazement of all. But this story cannot be verified. In another legend, Laka is said to have given birth to the dance on the island of Moloka‘i at a sacred place in Ka‘ana. It is said that after she died, her remains were hidden beneath the hill Pu‘u Nana.
Today, within many traditional hula Halau’s, ritual and prayer surround all aspects of their hula training and practice. Kumu Hula (teachers) and students would dedicate their performances to Laka. While there is no clear story as to the first hula dance, or the origin of hula there is one thing we do know, the beauty of the Native Hawaiian history is carried throughout each dance. And for this, some would say, we have Laka to thank.