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Home > Luau > Parts of a Luau

Parts of a luau

The traditional Hawaiian luau can roughly be broken into three major parts, each of which may have its own parts:

  preparation, which includes:
  gathering and preparing the food
  laying out the food on tables
  setting and decorating the tables
  feasting
  entertainment and enjoyment

At the Polynesian Cultural Center's Alii Luau, of course, much of the work is done behind the scenes, leaving the guests to an immensely enjoyable experience that can be broken into the following components:

  • A flower lei greeting
  • Souvenir picture taking (not included in the price of the package)
  • An optional pineapple smoothie (not included in the price of the package)
  • Live Hawaiian music, including steel guitar styling
  • The Polynesian Cultural Center's own Ambassador of Aloha master of ceremonies explains the cultural significance of the luau and hosts the program.
  • Polynesian Cultural Center performers start the program portion of the Ali'i Luau by singing a pule, The Queen's Prayer — written by Hawaii's last reigning monarch, Queen Lili'uokalani
  • The Royal Court — consisting of representatives of Hawaii's ruling alii or chiefs — enter the luau as the emcee explains their relative ranks and the significance of their traditional costumes.
  • Two young men uncover the imu or underground oven where a large pig has been cooking throughout the afternoon. Ancient Polynesians essentially devised a steam oven, called an imu in Hawaiian: River rocks are heated over firewood for several hours. When the rocks are sufficiently hot, any remaining firewood is removed and crushed banana stumps containing a lot of water are placed on top of the hot rocks — creating the steam — then the food is added, and everything is covered to seal in the steam. Depending on the amount of food, it may take hours for the feast to cook.
  • Multi-lingual hosts and hostesses direct each table to one of the buffet stations. Eat as much of the luau food as you like. Go back several times; or as Cousin Benny, the PCC's Ambassador of Aloha says, "Don't eat until you're full; eat until you're dizzy."
  • While you're eating, the program continues with hula kahiko or hula performed in the ancient style to the accompaniment of chants, drums and other percussion instruments; and hula auana, the graceful modern hula to the sounds of the steel guitar and beautiful Hawaiian music.
  • At some point in the program, the Ambassador of Aloha usually recognizes people who are celebrating their birthdays; and he always invites couplescelebrating their wedding or anniversaries to come on stage and dance to the Hawaiian Wedding Song.
  • Did we mention you can go back to the buffet line as often as you like?
  • Keiki , or children, in the audience are invited onstage to join the familiar strains of Aloha 'Oe, which brings the entertainment portion of the Alii Luau to a close...but guests are welcome to sit and relax for another half-hour; and, of course, go back for thirds.

 

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