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Legend of the rainbow maiden

Published: 07th September 2012 12:32 PM  |   Last Updated: 07th September 2012 12:32 PM   |  A+A-

Rainbow-Maiden

A Hawaiian myth

Kahalaopuna was the child born of the divine wind and rain. She lived in Manoa Valley where as the sunlight touched the misty rain and the wind lightly fluttered, rainbows bloomed. 

Known among the Hawaiians as the Rainbow maiden, Kahala flitted across the rocks, raindrops and wind, as she painted rainbows with her feet.

Kahala was a beautiful girl and there were two men, Kauhi, chief of the Waikikis, and Mahana, the chief of the Kamoilili who wished to marry her. Now, Kauhi belonged to the family of Mohoaili, the shark god, and was a cruel and wicked man. Kahala had made it very clear that she had no wish to marry him.

When Kauhi realised that the Rainbow maiden would not marry him, he decided that no man should have that good fortune. So he had her killed secretly and buried her where no one would be able to find her.

But Kahala had her guardian god, Pueo, the owl who scratched away the earth and restored her body to her spirit. When Kauhi found out, he killed her once again and buried her but the owl found the body this time round too. Many times this went on, Kauhi killing the Rainbow maiden and Pueo rescuing her again and again.

Angry at the owl not giving up, Kauhi buried her deep, deep down under the roots of a large Koa tree. Pueo, the Owl god, scratched and tugged until his claws bled but the roots were too strong and too many. Finally, he gave up. So much time had passed and the spirit by now would have descended to Po, the Underworld, Pueo thought sadly and flew away. 

But what he did not know was that Kahala’s spirit had not given up yet. She wandered around looking for someone who could restore her to her body. It was then that she came upon the noble Mahana the Kamoilili chief who had wished to marry her. Mahana loved her dearly and hence could feel her spirit’s presence. She led him to where her body lay buried under the Koa tree. Seeing the ground disturbed, Mahana dug up the earth and found her body. Although she lay lifeless, Mahana carried her away to his home hoping to restore her back to life with the help of his elder brother who was a kahuna (witch doctor).

The kahuna tried very hard but could not get the spirit to enter the body. So he invoked two spirit sisters who were the family guardians. The sisters found Kahala’s spirit, lonely and wandering. They coaxed it to enter the body through the feet, while the kahuna uttered the magic chants to restore life.

Kahala was soon brought back to life, much to the delight of Mahana who nursed her back to health and her original beauty. All was well again and the Rainbow Maiden had found her true love in chief Mahana. But our story doesn’t end there!



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