The latest episode of “Hawaii Five-0” — titled “Mōhai” which means, “sacrifice or offering” — seemed to be a perfect title for Halloween.
Although we learned via Peter Lenkov’s Twitter account that it would be pre-empted this week due to Hurricane Sandy, “Mōhai” promised to be a spooky night of “Five-0″ fun, as well as a creepy case for McG and the team to solve. It was a small sacrifice for fans when it was announced the new episode was pushed back a week. How could those of us not in Sandy’s relentless path sit and watch an hour of entertainment, while our east coast friends and family dealt with more important matters?
The delay to next Monday, Nov. 5, came with a sigh of relief for some, even though many had been waiting two weeks to see a new episode. I was glad they pushed it back, as it would feel odd to write a review on the night many fans did not have electricity or were dealing with the storm’s scary reality.
The “Hawaii Five-0” Halloween episode has become a special treat for fans, ever since season two’s “Ka Iwi Kapu” brought the subject of Hawaiian legends and beliefs to the forefront. This was one of the first episodes to really delve into the traditional practices concerning our heiau, or places of worship, as well as our superstitions about spirits and ‘uhane, or ghosts. It was a perfect way to commemorate Halloween, as well as to highlight our local and Hawaiian culture.
Just from watching the previews of this season’s Halloween episode, it seems as if the translation of “Mōhai” has to do more with “sacrifice” than “offering.” After talking with Hawaiian language expert T. Ilihia Gionson about the term, he stressed that “mōhai” is really about “prescribed sacrifice, meaning the kahuna would tell you what to sacrifice.”
“You have committed these crimes or sins, so you must do these tasks in order to be forgiven,” he said.
So, “mōhai” is more than just making an offering to make peace or to receive forgiveness, it’s more about making an offering in order to atone.
For me, “mōhai” seemed to be a heavier term to use. “Ho‘okupu” also means offering, but that is more for gift giving with love or a feeling of obligation, whereas “mōhai” would be an offering you are told to give by someone of authority and power over you.
I asked Gionson if this term had to do with luakini heiau, which are heiau where ruling chiefs prayed and human sacrifices were offered. But he said “mōhai” is more about any kind of “prescribed sacrifice,” so it does not have to be a blood sacrifice or one that leads to death.
Or dismemberment. Keep that in mind when we tune in next week.
I know I have written about heiau before, but just to clarify, not every heiau you see or visit are luakini heiau. According to the Hawaiian Dictionary, heiau are “places of worship, shrine; some heiau were elaborately constructed stone platforms, others simple earth terraces.”
There are many types of heiau, where people could worship the different gods and goddesses, like Pele (goddess of fire and volcanoes), Lono (god of the Makahiki), or Kū (god of war). There were also birthing heiau; lapa‘au or medicinal heiau; puʻuhonua or places of refuge; as well as kūʻula or koʻa heiau, which were fishing shrines.
(If you happen upon a heiau, please do not climb on the rocks or disrespect it in any way. Be as respectful toward it as you would a sacred place or religious building. Remember what happened to Danno when he didn’t heed McG, Chin, and Kono’s warnings?)
I’m sure the sacrifice we made this week for our “Five-0” friends who couldn’t watch this week’s episode, for whatever reason, will be worth it when we tune in next week for “Mōhai.” We wish our east coast friends all the best and hope everyone is able to watch next week.
Redux Side Note:
Happy Halloween has been translated several different ways, but let me breakdown the three different Hawaiian versions I have seen floating around the Internet.
“Hau‘oli” means “happy” and you can pair it with any of the following words or phrases: heleuī, lā hoʻomākaʻukaʻu, or ka lā hoʻolaʻa.
According to my students, “heleuī” is the more contemporary version, as it “sounds” the most like the English word “Halloween.”
“Ho‘omāka‘uka‘u” means “to scare or frighten,” which is, of course, the very point of Halloween. And the word “hallow” in Hawaiian is “ho‘ola‘a,” so ka lā hoʻolaʻa roughly means “the day to hallow.”
Wendie Burbridge is a published author, playwright and teacher who lives and works in Honolulu. Reach her via Facebook and follow her on Twitter.