In ancient Hawaiian mythology, Laka is known as the goddess of Hula – the traditional style of dancing and storytelling of the Native Hawaiians. Hula provided a way for the Native Hawaiians to pass on stories to future generations. Laka is also known for being the Goddess of the Forest, who watches over all vegetation. It is said that Laka means “gentle,” “docile” and “to attract.” She is associated with elements such as light and rain – which connect her to her husband, Lono the fertility god. Before a hula dancer is about to dance, he/she prays to Laka to hoʻoulu, or inspire their performance. The dancer and Laka become one in the dance. The dancer’s body being moved while the inspiration to the movement is Laka. It is said that she inspires the dancer to perform better. As the goddess of the forest, she is known for making it grow and thrive. The plants that are sacred to her are: maile, lama, hala pepe, `ie`ie, ki, `ôhia lehua, `ôhelo and palai. These are her kino lau. Today, Laka teaches us many lessons such as respect, commitment and diligence. She inspires every hula performance with grace and elegance. The next time you watch a hula performance, remember that Laka surrounds us and keeps each dancer connected.
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