Monday, July 18, 2011

A Hawaiian Cemetery

As a person living on the US mainland, it never truly occured to me that Hawaiians would have different burial traditions than the rest of us. Sure, I knew that the traditions would vary depending upon cultural and regious preferences, but I never really thought about the way they might memorialize their loved ones...until I had the opportunity to go to the small Hawaiian island of Kaua'i.

While in Kaua'i I stopped by a large cemetery on the North side of Kapaa. It is built up on a hill with all individuals being buried facing the East (towards the ocean). I did climb to the top of the hill and took a moment to enjoy the serene beauty of the ocean side cemetery before visiting with a sweet lady who had come to visit her grandmother.

As I spoke to the lady, a Hawaiian native, she told me that the majority of Hawaiians prefer to be cremated. The family and friends then gather to sprinkle the ashes in the Pacific Ocean. She said there are companies that will take them out by boat and hold a nice ceremony for them to do this.

As I looked around I noticed the large marble crucifxion in the far Southwest corner of the cemetery. When I asked her about it she indicated the cemetery was a Catholic cemetery. Northwest Arkansas many Catholic cemeteries bury individuals to where they are facing a statue of Mary or so forth. However, that was not the case in this cemetery. When I asked her why she shrugged her shoulders, pointed towards the ocean and laughed, "I guess they liked that view better!"

I wanted to post some photos of the cemetery and some of the memorials that I visited. You will notice each plot has a wall around it in order to keep the plot from washing down the side of the hill.