Usually takes place on a night with no moon and no stars in the sky and when the night is in complete darkness.
In Hawaiian legend, Nightmarchers (huaka’i pō or “Spirit Ranks,” ‘oi’o) are the ghosts of ancient Hawaiian warriors. On “Po Kane Night” the night of the gods Kane, Ku, Lono, Akua, or on the nights of Kaloa they are said to come forth from their burial sites to march out to past battles or to other sacred places. They march at sunset and just before the sun rises. Anyone living near their path may hear chanting and marching, and must go inside to avoid notice. They might appear during the day if coming to escort a dying relative to the spirit world. Anyone looking upon or seen by the marchers will die unless a relative is within the marcher’s ranks- some people maintain that if you lie face down on the ground they will not see you. This is to show respect. However, if exiting the area is the fastest option, it is recommended. Placing leaves of the ti (Cordyline sp.) around one’s home is said to keep away all evil spirits, and will cause the huaka’i pō to avoid the area. Another thing is to always highly respect the night marchers which can result in great things.
The ceremony and conduct of the march is customised to the tastes of its honored leader. A chief known to be fond of music would be honored with much drumming and chanting. If the chief enjoyed peace and quiet, the march would be as silent as possible. If a chief did not like to walk around much, he would be carried in a sling. In old Hawaii, laws declared parts of a chief to be sacred, and not seen. The punishment for looking at these parts was death. If a chief’s face was not supposed to be seen, he would lead. If his back was not to be looked upon, he would be in the back. However, for some chiefs, there was no part of them that was forbidden to look at. This chief would march among the other warriors in the group.
There are gods in some marches. The torches are said to burn brighter in these marches. The largest torches are carried at the front, back, with three within the group. The number five is key in Hawaiian mythology. In the march of gods, there are six gods, three male, three female. The Goddess named Hi`iaka-i-ka-poli-o-Pele, (commonly shortened to Hi’iaka), is often within the march. The marches are extremely varied.
“ “The first thing you will hear is drums in the distance, then you will smell a foul and musky odor, and you will hear a conch shell being blown, for fair warning to get out of the way, and you will see torches getting brighter and brighter as they get closer. Your best chance is to have an ancestor that recognizes you, they will call out,”Na’u!” which means mine. But if you are in the night marchers’ bloodline no one in the procession can harm you. No matter what you build in their path they go straight through it. The night marchers are the vanguard for a sacred chief or chiefess who unusually have a high station in life.” – Po Kane.
Haunted Hawaiian Nights, by Lopaka Kapanui
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