Author Archive
Folk Beliefs
general

Superstition – Hawaiian

Folkore: Hawaiian superstitions and beliefs

There’s one part of the islands on a mountain called the Pali Highway. You can’t carry pork with you. There was a group of people who went there and they had pork and the car stopped completely and won’t start.

Analysis:

My mom heard these from a storyteller who collected ghost stories. She’s pretty superstitious so she’ll make sure you’re clean after the beach and that you respect people’s graves and such. But I don’t know the origin of the night marchers.

My Analysis:

Pork is a sacred symbol to the indigenous people, so to carry it with your would be disrespecting the core of the island. It is imperative that one release it so that good fortune will be on your side.

Folk Beliefs
general

Superstition – Hawaiian

Folklore: Hawaiian superstitions/beliefs

1. Don’t take black sand from the beach or you’ll anger the goddess of the volcano. She’s temperamental and stuff. You have to dust yourself off after you sit down.

2. Then there’s the night marchers. The ghosts of soldiers who walk on a specific trail they march one. There was one kid whose bed was on the trail and it’s not good to be there. You’ll get a fever and stuff.

Analysis:

My mom heard these from a storyteller who collected ghost stories. She’s pretty superstitious so she’ll make sure you’re clean after the beach and that you respect people’s graves and such. But I don’t know the origin of the night marchers.

My Analysis:

Hawaiian superstitions are interesting. The first one deals with the beach, a big tourist staple in Hawaii.  Because they surround the entire volcanic island and are considered to be the property of the gods, they are sacred.  Superstitions and myths are often intertwined, as this one is.  Dusting off black sand to not anger the gods signifies a reverence for nature and for a sacred truth.

folk metaphor
folk simile
general
Proverbs

Proverb

Folklore: Simile, a “saying”

“It’s as easy as shooting monkeys in a barrel.”

Analysis:

It means like it’s as easy as a piece of cake. There’s even a game out from this, where there’s these monkey with claws and you try to pull them out from a bucket. I learned it when I was in elementary school. It might come from the Mid-West or Southern white… It might refer to slavery. The word “monkey” was used to describe black people. “Monkey porch” implies lazy black people and is pretty derogatory.

My Analysis:

This is a difficult metaphor to decipher, mainly because I had never heard anything remotely similar to this saying. When read closely, it is a cruel picture: having monkeys trapped in a barrel, helpless, and then shooting them is a barbaric way of asserting superiority over something. I’m not sure of Chris’s slavery interpretation, but it definitely signifies superiority and something about trapping an inferior group.  It mocks the easiness of the action.  Of course it would be easy to shoot the monkeys if they are all trapped inside a barrel.

general
Myths

Myth – Hawaiian

Folklore: Hawaiian myth

Maui was also a skilled fisherman. Before Hawaiian islands came to be, he was fishing one day, and his huge hook got caught. Then he pulled and hauled out the 8 major islands, they were pulled out of the water.

Analysis:

I learned it in the third or fourth grade when the teacher told us. The land, farming and the sun were the core part of their lives. They were so central and stories were created around them to explain things and to be passed down.

My Analysis:

This is another myth based on Maui, explaining the origin of the Hawaiian islands. It definitely takes place outside of this time and goes all the way back to the genesis. Fishing is another staple of Hawaii (being an island), and it’s ironic that he accidentally got his hook caught on the islands and pulled them out. It’s funny, lighthearted, and makes it seem like the Hawaiian islands were coincidentally formed.

Annotation: Book

Beckwith, Martha. Hawaiian Mythology. Hawaii: University of Hawaii Press, 1977. “Fishing exploits” found on pages 215-17.

general
Myths

Myth – Hawaiian

Folklore: Hawaiian myth

Maui was a demi-god, half human and god. There’s one story, where in ancient times, the sun would go around the earth really fast. People couldn’t farm or work because it was never a full day.  Then Maui took a lasso and lassoed the sun and halted it down, which caused the days to be longer so people could eat and slow down.

Annotation: Book

Beckwith, Martha. Hawaiian Mythology. Hawaii: University of Hawaii Press, 1977. “Snaring of the sun” found on page 229.

My Analysis:

This is a sacred truth that nearly all Hawaiians know, one that explains the origin of the day.  Maui, on which one of the islands is named after, has incredible strength and compassion for the people of Earth. It shows how he can control the sun.  This myth also explains the origin of farming and how important agriculture was to the people. Most of their days revolved around how much sunlight occurred during the day.

folk metaphor
general
Narrative

Metaphor – California

Folklore: Metaphor

Your story is like a horse. As a writer, you’re on a horse going from Los Angeles to Santa Monica. So long as you’re doing scene after scene correctly, you won’t have any problems. The problem is that it’s a buckin’ brono, a buckin’ stallion, so you’ll fall off without realizing it. The horse might go off in the wrong direction. This is all because it’s difficult to be a screenwriter and you’ll end up in film lore instead of Santa Barbara. So you have to be careful.

Analysis:

It becomes a joke and advice. I’ve heard it from other friends and from one of my professors. I first heard it last year, second semester. It’s a metaphor for being true to your story. Each story has its own life. You can mess it up or always keep one scene after the next.

My Analysis:

This was an original story told by the professor during class, but has since been passed on by his students to other students and other writers. It symbolizes a hard path to writing the perfect story. A bucking stallion is hard to take control of, and you must be extremely determined to keep it under your control. The way that Matthew told the story does not entirely make sense, and Matt even admitted that he was probably telling the story wrong, but it still signifies the hardship of writing.  Writers must stay on course and keep their works cohesive and on topic, instead of wandering on tangents with no purpose.

general
Proverbs

Proverb – Chinese

Folklore: Chinese proverb

[Grace did not know the actual Chinese characters]

Hok yu yek sui hang jow, but chun juk teou

“Education is like going on a current. If you don’t progress, you’re going to fall behind.”

Analysis:

My mom would tell me this all the time, like when we would talk about school. She would encourage me to do better in school.

My Analysis:

I found a different version online and used in a medical document. It is a popular quote used to emphasize the importance of education, which dates back to when China installed a meritocracy system. Any person, peasant or nobility, could for these national exams to be in the civil service. They were based purely on merit and skilled knowledge, so to be educated was a high honor and a valued privilege in ancient China. That mentality has trickled down over the generations into a steadfast pressure to be at the forefront of your class.  There is a fear of losing face and appearing to be less smart than your peers. Also, the proverb stresses the fact that you cannot procrastinate or be lazy; you must be persistent in learning more or else the effort will be futile.

Annotation:

“Learning is like rowing upstream, not to advance is to fall back.”

Zhang Z et al. “Randomized Clinical Trial on the Combination of Preoperative Irradiation and Surgery in the Treatment of Adenocarcinoma of Gastric Cardia (AGC) – Report on 370 Patients.” Abramson Cancer Center of the University of Pennsylvania. (2001) International Journal of Radiation Oncology Biology Physics December 1998, Volume 42 (Number 5): pages 929 – 934.

Customs
general
Humor

Wedding Prank – Indian

Folklore: Indian wedding prank

Then after that, the boy enters the temple. Where the ceremony takes place is very sacred. While the boy is waiting there for the bride, his shoes are there outside. After the ceremony he can take his shoes and the girl to his house. It’s the girl’s family’s responsibility to take the groom’s shoes for money. Because he can’t go outside without his shoes, it’s a tradition every wedding. The bride’s sister or any relative would take the boy’s shoes and hide them for the entire ceremony and at the very end would ask for money.  The bride’s family obviously doesn’t want her to go. I got $500!

Analysis

We love to party.  In India, it’s whatever happens to be comfortable. People will take off a week from work for the wedding. But we pulled it off in three events: the cocktail party, a henna party, and a very intimate family party for religious reasons. That’s when a guru would come to the house and set up a temple for private prayer. At that point in time, the girl’s family would bond again, wish good luck to the girl.  My sister was sitting down and all the female members would hold a cloth over her and put one piece of jewelry on the cloth, which has our best fortunes and wishes for the future to bless her. Then she’d be spiritually ready for the wedding.

There’s a “rule” that you can’t wear anything old, basically – a lot of shopping, brand new dresses/jewelry. It’s about first impressions. To Indians, it’s always about the one-up, showing how wealthy you are and the grandiose of the event. This is a way for us to have a really big family reunion. My sister got married last fall.

My Analysis:

This is a classic wedding prank in Indian culture. Feet are often seen to be sexual symbols, and to have the groom frantically look for the shoes exemplifies this idea. It also shows how playful the weddings are, and is a way for the bride’s family to think of clever or cunning ways to hide the shoes.  It also has a feeling of nostalgia. Obviously, the bride’s family does not want their daughter to leave, so if the groom can never find his shoes, then they can perhaps keep her forever.

Customs
general

Wedding Custom – Indian

Folklore: Indian Weddings – Henna

Story/Analysis:

The one I personally love the best, few years before the actual wedding, all the ladies of the wedding family would put on henna, it’s a plant that can dye your skin in pretty flower designs. I asked my mom why we do that — the bride will put it on the arm to the elbow and the feet up the calves. They put the lemon juice on so it’ll make it stay. It’s a very dark red stain on your skin. But it comes off quicker with water and rubbing. The story goes that the bride’s mom put on henna, and the daughter would go to the boy’s family and live with his family as tradition. The groom’s mom would see how hard the new bride worked. If she does laundry or do dishes, chores involved with water, if she would do them early on, the henna would come off quicker, probably in a week. It’s the way the mom can see how the new bride was working in the home. That was in ancient times. Now, it’s how lazy the bride is.

Henna is an accessory, it’s fun, takes about an hour to dry.  It’s a temporary tattoo, a sign that you’re a close member of the bride/groom’s family, a bond over henna. The henna artist would hide the groom’s name really small, which kind of means that the girl won’t do anything on the wedding night unless the groom finds the name.

My Analysis:

Henna is a beautiful form of folk art that has turned into sort of a franchise. Tina said at her sister’s wedding they had a professional come and do everyone’s arms. It is traditionally done only for women and as a way to bond with one other. To have something engraved into your skin also symbolizes the hopeful permanence of the wedding and blessings for the new couple.

Annotation: Entire book on planning an Indian wedding

Gill, Sarbjit K. Gill. A Comprehensive Indian Wedding Planner. Bookmark Press, 2002. Found on page 12.

general
Myths

Myth – Indian

Folklore: Indian myth

They were bedtime stories when I was 7 or 8. My mom told me about the mischievous things Krishna did. He was the son of a king, but the king’s evil brother wanted to have the crown. He would imprison his brother and wife and killed off all of the sons according to the prophecy that the 7th son would overthrow him. But on the night the 7th son was born, an angel came and switched the babies.

But the 7th son, the mom got visited by an angel and switched the sons. He was raised in a village, and you’d think he’s a god and a perfect kid. But he was the most mischievous kid ever. In portraits of him, he always has a peacock feather. He’s very charming. He would steal butter from the pots, which they keep in large pots for storage up high. He would throw rocks at them so he can eat the raw butter, which is hard to make by hand. The most famous picture is of him as a fat baby eating butter.

He also has blue skin. He’s blue because he saves the village from this really evil snake, which is really huge, this thing bites him, he holds onto the snake, and has the snake release all of his venom into his body. So then the snake becomes harmless, but his skin turned blue because the venom is blue. Why doesn’t he die? Because he’s God! It’s a beautiful ultramarine blue. All portraits of him are blue and with a peacock feather.

One of the main animal symbols is that he’s associated with a cow. That’s associated with our values and worshipping the cow. He rides on the cow because he’s considered a village boy, it goes with that other myth. He’s a charismatic womanizer, all the women of the town and all the girls loved him and wanted to be his bride. He would play tricks on garba, the women. You dance in a circle, where he would copy himself. Krishna is dancing with every single one. The second a woman thought he was dancing with only her, he would disappear. The lesson is not to be selfish.

He actually does pick a bride, Rada.  She’s very smart and witty, daughter of Mother Earth, and has some spiritual power. She always asks Krishna, “How can I not get jealous?” She’s always mad at him for some reason or another. And he’ll try to win her back.

My Analysis:

This is a complicated tale of Krishna, a god of whom many stories praise or speak of. He is the main figure in much of Indian culture. The god has humanly characteristics. Instead of being a solemn character, he is playful and the opposite of what a god should be. To have a picture of a fat baby god mischievously eating butter connects with people better and makes it easier to relate to this powerful god. He is no longer a distant deity in the heavens but brought down to earth to be on the same level as humans.

Annotation: Book

Pattanaik, Devdutt. Indian Mythology: Tales, Symbols, and Rituals from the Heart of the Subcontinent. Inner Traditions, 2003. “Birth of Krishna” found on page 126.

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