Meaning of a lei? : LUSENET : About Hawaii : One Thread

What is the purpose of a lai? What meaning does it have or is it just a sign of Welcome?

-- Melissa Hughes (, January 24, 1999


Response to Meanings

Hiiaka, Pele's younger sister was the goddess of mercy and protection and is most associated with leis since that is what they symbolize. Leis were given to ali'i (royalty) as a sign of affection and when two warring chiefs settled their differences, they wove a lei which meant an end to the hostilities with this circle of peace. In modern times, leis are given to people arriving and leaving the islands, marriages, funerals, graduations, promotions, birthdays or any ceremony or celebration. Depending on the type of flower, fern, or vine and the amount of time required to make the lei, it can signify importance or prestige. Some common leis are Moanaloa or carnations for graduation, maile for men for weddings and pikake or pakalana for the women. Plumerias for graves. Plumerias, vandas, tuberose, and ti leaf are used for welcomes, good-byes, thank yous and congratulations. Lei prices can range from a couple of dollars to $75+ for beautiful hakus (leis for your head). Season also plays a part in price ;)

-- Roy Inouye (, January 24, 1999.

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