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Tradition of Honi

Updated: Oct 2, 2020

Honi, a Hawaiian greeting dating back for generations in ancient Hawaii. Many of you have probably not experienced or heard of Honi. As it was something that was done in ancient Hawaii, it is rarely practiced today. As many of you know when you are greeted here on the islands, by someone who lives here. You are grabbed and given a big hug with a kiss on the cheek. Sometime for those not use to this custom, in can catch you off guard or invade your personal bubble to an extent.

If its a special occasion, like a birthday or maybe your first time on the island. You will be greeted with a beautiful flower lei, along with a hug and the kiss on the side of the cheek as well.


The exchange of Honi, is done when we touch alo to alo (forehead to forehead) , we are touching bone to bone, with our maka, third eye, ihu to ihu (nose to nose). The third eye is the center of the body. By touching forehead to forehead, we can read someone else’s intentions and basically their aura as humans.


Hawaiians believe that our ancestral DNA is inside of our bones. So when we connect bone to bone, we’re connecting the ancestors from both sides of our families during that moment.

Then after placing alo to alo (forehead to forehead) there is the exchange of breath between the two people doing Honi. The breath is know as the Ha, divine breath held within each living person. The breath is exchanged through the ihu (nose) it a part of us that come directly from the spirit. You have now exchange the breath of life with this other person.


Hawaiians believe that their breath is a key to good health and they believed it processed Mana (Spiritual Power). Honi is a way of connecting with a person on a very deep and personal level. This exchange was done between high chiefs and warriors as well as between many royalties. It was a scared tradition in ancient Hawaii.


This also may be how the word haole came about, meaning “Breathless and Lifeless soul." The first European settlers used to withdraw from the Honi custom and extend a handshake, this was a deep disrespect to anyone preforming the Honi with the other person.












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