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When you visit Hawaii, it’s one of the most delicate and gorgeous traditions. A necklace of flowers are placed around your neck, and you feel like you’re in heaven. Leis are most historically associated with the goddess Hiiaka, one of Pele’s sisters. Hiiaka was the goddess of protection and mercy and often wore leis, symbolizing her duties. Leis are worn for many different occasions on the islands. They’re worn during weddings, religious events, birthdays, basically any time that calls for a celebration.
Leis are usually made up of a string of carnations or plumeria. There are different types of stringing styles known to the native Hawaiians. The most typical is the kui, the stringing of the flowers through the sides of the flowers or the middles of them. The ones you typically see on TV are these types. Another style is the muhumu style. These are leis that are much flatter. Flowers involved with the muhumu style of leiing are actually sewn together. The wili style is when you twist ferns and flowers together into shorter length bouquets that can be worn.
While each state of the union has its state flower, each island in Hawaii has its own island lei. The big island’s lei is from the lehua tree. The blossoms are red or creamy white and they grow near sea level. They use this flower because the lava from the island’s active volcanoes is red. Maui’s lei is a pink rose, or the lokelani. This flower was brought to the island and is actually rarely found naturally there. Lanai’s lei is the kaunaoa, an orange flower that is found along the beaches and roads of the island. The kaunaoa is one of the most traditional leis. Oahu’s lei is the ilima, a yellow flower that is similar to the feathers of an o’o bird. Kaui’s lei is the mokihina and is violet in color. The mokihina tree’s blossoms also grow a fruit that is green when first strung into a lei but turn brown and keep their fresh smell after time goes by.