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Hawaii cultural figures lead community in ‘healing’ vigil following deadly Maui wildfires


(HONOLULU) — Local cultural leaders in Hawaii believe the community is in need of healing following the devastating wildfires on Maui, as residents prepare for a long journey toward recovery and rebuilding.

A statewide, one-day vigil will be led by cultural practitioners to aid in emotional and spiritual healing through traditional ceremonies –such as hula and pule, or dance and prayer — for those in mourning.

At least 115 people were killed in the blaze and thousands of others have been displaced. Federal agencies are continuing the long road ahead toward recovery and rebuilding, while the community fights to meet the needs of its people.

Maui-based kumu hula and Hawaiian elder Hōkūlani Holt-Padilla said while other needs like financial and physical wellbeing have been front-and-center in the aftermath, the emotional recovery of the community should also be a priority.

“There’s an urgent need for prayer, cleansing, and reflection so that together, we can help Maui and Hawai‘i heal,” Holt-Padilla said. “This vigil will help to create a space for grief and healing and the opportunity for Hawai‘i to be united.”

Organizers say the ritual is intended to honor and mourn those who have died and what has been lost, as well as to cleanse the land.

The vigil, called “Kīpuni Aloha no Maui: Embrace beloved Maui,” will take place at sunrise, 6 a.m. to 7:30 a.m. HST; then at noon, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.; and then at sunset, 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. Events will be held across the state on Maui, Oahu, Hawaii or The Big Island, and Molokai.

Those who wish to partake virtually can tune in live on ABC Honolulu affiliate KITV-4, Akakῡ Community Media, KAKU 88.5 FM, Maui Stream, Nā Leo TV, Hō‘ike TV, Hawai‘i News Now, KHON-2, online on HawaiiSoul.org/Maui and on YouTube.

“While the road to recovery will be long, the outpouring of support from all of Hawai‘i’s people and from those beyond our shores has been a bright spot and provides hope to build an even stronger Maui Nui and Hawaii,” said Rediscovering Hawaii’s Soul, a coalition of local community leaders that is co-hosting the vigil.

The vigil is backed by Hawaii Gov. Josh Green, as well as other officials across the Islands, including Maui County Mayor Richard Bissen, Kauai County Mayor Derek Kawakami and more.

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