Saturday November 18, 2017

Not GPS but Stars help the voyaging canoe, Hokule’a to travel the World

To bring back the ancient culture alive, a group of Native Hawaiians and anthropologists built Hokule'a, forty years ago, which was long forgotten

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Hokule'a arrival in Honolulu from Tahiti in 1976
Hokule'a arrival in Honolulu from Tahiti in 1976, source: Wikimedia Commons

Hawaii’s famous Canoe, Hokule’a is making a journey engraving its mark on history book pages, traversing the globe by wayfinding. Ancient Polynesian wayfinding technique requires memorizing hundreds of stars from where tey rise and set on the ocean horizon.

“As a navigator, your job is to look at the shape of the ocean,” told Naiona Thompson, the president of Polynesian Voyaging Society to npr.org in an interview. “You have to be on your feet and to be able to feel one wave when it comes through from one foot to another. You only know where you are by memorizing where you come from.”

Hawaiian Voyaging Canoe Hokule'a
Hawaiian Voyaging Canoe Hokule’a, Wikimedia Commons

Onboard this east coast leg is a 12 member crew, a mix veteran native Hawaiian navigators and young, lean learners who have taken their time off as pro surfers and educators.

“This floating island is a representation of the values people should have for the islands we all live in — whether that’s Hawaii, the U.S. mainland or Tangier Island. It’s been really interesting to see how people see themselves in that message. They get it.” said Na’alehu Anthony, 36, who is a crew member.

To bring back the ancient culture alive, a group of Native Hawaiians and anthropologists built Hokule’a, forty years ago, which was long forgotten.

At the time, no one knew the celestial navigating technique, no one knew how to build voyaging canoe -for the 600 years, no voyaging canoe has existed. But a man named Mau Piailug in Micronesia, a Wayfinder taught them how to sail by following cues from nature – not only observing the stars but by observing the bird species and observing the direction of the wind.

In 1976, Mau and a group of Native Hawaiians bet their lives that they could travel from Hawaii to Tahiti on a boat without any present day navigational equipment, to prove the theory that the original people who settled on the islands of Hawaii reached there with the intention of discovering the islands and not by accident.

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voyaging canoe Hokule’a at Suo Oshima channel, Japan, Wikimedia Commons

After more than a month , the team finally reached its destination. This victory evoked the hope that the Hawaiian culture is still alive. People on the island demanded that the state should start teaching the Hawaiian language in the schools again.

The Hokule’a gave them the identity.

Since 1976, 25 more sea voyaging canoes have been built across 11 countries, more than 180 crew have taken a turn aboard on global trip.

Till now, Hokule’a has traveled 26,000 miles.

“This canoe is a school that’s about relearning the genius of our ancestors, and about our reconnection to our ocean,” said Thompson, one of the crew member, in an interview conducted by npr.org. “This voyage is not my vision. It’s that of my teachers. I’m just a bridge between them and” — he points to his young crew — “them.”

This voyage would be the last voyage for Thompson and other elder crew members. After that, a new generation of Wayfinders will come onboard and will guide the canoe ahead.

-by Akanksha Sharma

Akanksha Sharma is a student of Journalism and an intern at Newsgram. Twitter @Akanksha4117

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Zen Scholar Unno showcases History and Practice of Buddhism

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buddhism
Courtesy: Wisdom Publications

Hawai’i, March 18, 2017: Author and Zen scholar Dr Mark Unno will come back to Hawai‘i Island for a presentation on Buddhist history. He will also conduct a guided meditation at the Kohala Hongwanji on Sunday, March 19, at 2 p.m. The general public regardless of faith or background, is welcome to attend the free event.

Dr. Unno will unveil two forms of mindfulness practice originating from the Buddhas, Syakamuni (the commonly-known historical figure) and Amida Buddha (the symbolic, universal Buddha).

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During his presentation, Unno will speak about the history of Buddhism and the formation of numerous practices of mindfulness, as well as the Shin Buddhist path of Namu Amida Butsu–a widespread form of nembutsu–which aims to proliferate a state of conscience and compassion.

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Unno’s research underscored on Classical Japanese Buddhism with an emphasis on Zen and Pure Land Buddhism. He is Associate Professor of Japanese Buddhism in the Department of Religious Studies at the University of Oregon. He teaches courses on Asian Religions, Classical Japanese Buddhism and Comparative Religion. Unno is also the author of Shingon Refractions: Myoe and the Mantra of Light (2004). He is the editor of Buddhism and Psychotherapy Across Cultures (2006), and is a regular contributor to Buddhist journals like Tricycle and Buddhadharma: The Practitioner’s Quarterly.

– prepared by Sabhyata Badhwar of NewsGram. Twitter: @SabbyDarkhorse

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Hawaii to host World Conservation Congress: Ancient Hawaiian Farmers Offer Lessons in Sustainability

The Hawaii botanist says he hopes that by coming to Limahuli, visitors will learn some valuable lessons from the ancient Hawaiians who worked this land

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Limahuli Garden and Preserve is set in a verdant tropical valley on the north shore of the Hawaiian Island of Kaua`i. Against a backdrop of majestic Makana Mountain, the garden overlooks the Pacific Ocean. Image source: VOA

Hawaii is hosting the World Conservation Congress. Thousands of government officials, environmental activists, business leaders and other delegates from nearly 200 countries are in Honolulu for 10 days to shape the direction of global conservation and sustainable development. This is the first time the Eco-summit is being held in the U.S. Organizers say one of the reasons the Aloha state was chosen to host the quadrennial conference is because it’s been a model for incorporating indigenous culture into its conservation initiatives.

A shining example of this is Limahuli Garden and Preserve, on the island of Kauai.

Its director, Kawika Winter, points to the evidence of successful, sustainable farming in the verdant tropical valley. “You see all these terraces that are remnants of the ancient agricultural complex that dates back almost a thousand years. So the original inhabitants of this valley built these walls and left them to be able to grow taro on the land.”

Kawika Winter gives a tour of the garden to a group of environmental journalists.
Kawika Winter gives a tour of the garden to a group of environmental journalists. Image source: VOA

Winter notes while most of Hawaii’s food is now imported, once upon a time, valleys like this one nourished the whole community.

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“If you’re to take the time to walk through the jungle over here, you’d find terrace after terrace after terrace, all the way down to the ocean. So this valley was definitely feeding a lot of people in the old days.” In fact, its name – Limahuli – in Hawaiian, means turning hands, and Winter says it might refer to the people who once turned their hands here to work the earth.

Ancient land management system

Limahuli Garden and Preserve is one of four gardens in Hawaii run by the National Tropical Botanical Garden. Winter says it’s also one of the few places in the state where people can learn how to manage resources based on the ancient Hawaiian ahupua`a system. He explains, “An ahupua’a is basically a land section that extends from the top of the mountains, out into the ocean and it’s within the borders of an ahupua’a that Hawaiian communities were developed and managed.”

Artist's depiction of what the area around Limahuli might have looked like many years ago.
Artist’s depiction of what the area around Limahuli might have looked like many years ago. Image source: VOA

Limahuli’s approach gives it a leading role in saving native species. Hawaii is the endangered species capital of the U.S., if not the world. There are more endangered species per square kilometer on these islands than any other place on the planet, and Winter says nearly 40 of them are in 400 protected hectares of Limahuli’s garden and nature preserve.

“We’re working to do ecological restoration to prevent extinction of this precious biodiversity that exists in this valley,” Winter says. “Some of the species are only existing in this valley, and some of them are down to a few individuals in the wild.”

Lessons for sustainability

The Hawaii botanist says he hopes that by coming to Limahuli, visitors will learn some valuable lessons from the ancient Hawaiians who worked this land: whatever you do on the land affects the life and ecosystem of the ocean, and that fresh water is the secret to everything. One of the last pristine waterways left in the Islands runs through the garden.

Limahuli Stream is one of the few pristine waterways left in the Hawaiian Islands.
Limahuli Stream is one of the few pristine waterways left in the Hawaiian Islands. Image source: VOA

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At more than 1,000 workshops and panel discussions, delegates to the World Conservation Congress are focusing on the theme of our planet at the crossroads, with topics ranging from species recovery and eco-tourism to indigenous peoples and megacities and watersheds.

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Kawika Winter believes Limahuli Garden and Preserve can show the world how to care for the planet. “From our perspective, instead of reinventing the wheel, all we need to do is look back to a system that worked in Hawaii for at least a millennium and quite possibly more. And our hope is that we can be a model of sustainability and we can show that the ahupua’a system can offer viable solutions to our contemporary issues regarding sustainability in Hawaii and the globe.” (VOA)

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Tulsi Gabbard asks California education board to describe Hinduism accurately, urges to include the ‘positive contributions’ made by Hindu women

Being the first and only serving Hindu-American member of Congress, Gabbard claimed that she has dedicatedly worked towards encouraging equality, pluralism and diversity

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Tulsi Gabbard. Image Source: nbcnews.com
  • In a letter head of their final hearing, on July 8, Gabbard has insisted that the board should ensure both the identity and the history of the religion are restored
  • In addition she also asked the education board to include the key roles women have played in ancient history and Hindu society at large
  • She has also asked the education board to depict the caste-system positively

Tulsi Gabbard, the first Hindu ever elected to U.S. Congress, has urged a California based education board to define Hinduism accurately in their text books and give the religion its due credit.

The 35-year-old Hindu-American politician and the representative of Democratic Party from Hawaii since 2013, has asked the board not to describe the religion in the wrong light as ‘religions of ancient India.’

Californian education board is in its last phase of revising and updating the K-12 History-Social Science syllabus for public schools.

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In a letter head of their final hearing, on July 8, Gabbard has insisted that the board should ensure both the identity and the history of the religion are restored.

She has stressed that all inaccurate and wrong references related to Hinduism like the phrase, “religions of Ancient India, including but not limited to early Hinduism” must be removed.

In the letter Gabbard said, “Replacing Hinduism with the term ‘religions of Ancient India, including but not limited to early Hinduism’ is not only inaccurate, but it will cause confusion for students and teachers alike,” reported DNA.

Tulsi Gabbard administering the oath of office on Bhagvad Gita. Image Source: The Hindu
Tulsi Gabbard administering the oath of office on Bhagavad Gita. Image Source: The Hindu

In addition, she also asked the education board to include the key roles women have played in ancient history and Hindu society at large.

She wrote, “While it is important to discuss the existence of patriarchies in ancient civilisations, it is also critical to discuss the positive contributions and unique roles played by women in those societies,” she noted.

“In the context of Ancient India, Hindu women were able to perform their own religious rites and also authored the Vedas, Hinduism’s sacred texts,” Gabbard added.

She has also asked the education board to depict the caste-system positively and added that though caste-based discrimination is a reality but the present description “goes against the essence of Hindu teachings and scriptures, which posit that divinity is inherent in all beings.”

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Being the first and the only serving Hindu-American member of Congress, Gabbard claimed that she has dedicatedly worked towards encouraging equality, pluralism, and diversity.

Meanwhile, around two dozen Indian-American organizations have also sent a letter to the board, requesting it no teach Hinduism in an “outdated, inaccurate and stereotyped manner.”

– prepared by Bulbul Sharma, a staff-writer at NewsGram. Twitter handle: iBulbul_

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