Scientists call it piper methysticum, or “intoxicating pepper,” but in Hawaii, it’s known as ‘awa. Studied and used by people as diverse as researchers, nutritionists, and native Hawaiian cultural practitioners, this plant and the products derived from it will again be explored and shared at the Hawaii Pacific Island Kava Festival.
The free, public festival will take place this Saturday on the UH Manoa campus. Hosted by the ‘Awa Development Council of Hawaii, the event will include food, drink, live music, live art exhibitions, crafts and demonstrations.
The drink of choice, of course, will be kava, which is made with ‘awa and is its best known form. Though kava was traditionally made by grinding the ‘awa root and straining it through coconut husks or shredded bark. The plant has mild analgesic and topical anesthetic qualities, and kava has a taste that’s often diplomatically described as “earthy.”
The drink is also famously relaxing, so it’s perhaps fitting that the theme of Saturday’s event is “I Maluhia ka Honua,” or, “So the world may be at peace.”
The festival and music program begins at 11 a.m., and scheduled to appear are Grammy Award winner Jeff Peterson, Johnny Helm, Kupa’aina, Mike Love, One Right Turn, Evasive Species (Shawn Mosely and Stephen Inglis), Michael Tanenbaum, Kanoho Helm, Matty McIntire, and Halau Mele.
The event runs until 7 p.m., and will take place on McCarthy Mall between Varney Circle and Hamilton Library. For more information, visit KavaFestival.org.
Photo by Evan Tector, courtesy Mike Machado.