Lono is the Hawaiian god of cultivated, agrarian foods, especially the kumara or sweet potato. Lono was also the god of peace. In his honor, the great annual festival of the Makahiki was held. During this period (from October through February), war and unnecessary work was forbidden.

In Mythology

In the early days following the separation of Rangi and Papa. Lono used a net to fish up the sun and the moon from the seas and set them in orbit. When it came time to create humans he supplied the fertile soil to create them, his brother sculpted the bodies and their oldest brother Kane breathed life into them. Lono liked to descend from the heavens on a rainbow and surf. which is how he met and married the mortal woman Kaikilani. Her beauty was so intense that he was frequently jealous and on one occasion was so convinced she had been unfaithful that he struck her down with his godly powers. Repenting of this act he wandered the island mourning her and in her memory instituted the Makahiki festival that lasts from October to February – the rainy season. The rains are said to be Lono’s tears over the loss of Kaikilani (though other myths say they are Rangi’s tears over being separated from his wife Papa). He later married the goddess Laka.

Association with Captain Cook

When the British explorer Captain James Cook arrived in Hawaii during the Makahiki festival of peace. Many Hawaiian believed him to be the god Lono returned to the island for a second time, which had been prophesised. He was therefore treated as a god for his stay. When he returned to to Hawaii on another voyage in 1779, he was no longer believed to be Lono, since Lono wasn't supposed to return. Tensions grew between the Hawaiians and the British, resulting in Cook's death.


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