Ho’okipa is pronounced [Ho-o-kee-pa].
Ho’okipa means embracing and welcoming all who come in the spirit of aloha. The offering of the lei is a symbol of ho‘okipa and the aloha spirit that Hawai’i is known for across the globe. It runs much deeper than most people know and it is one of the reasons Hawai’i has welcomed so many people from all corners of the globe with its warmth and hospitality.
Ho’okipa is a fundamental aspect of the Aloha spirit which gives it great value in Hawaiian culture. It is a value based on trust, generosity, and abundance…it is about giving without asking for something in return. With Ho’okipa, one is asked to open their arms and their hearts to others in the spirit of selfless giving.
Ho‘okipa involves an authentic and compassionate outpouring of aloha. Hawaiians practice ho‘okipa by wholeheartedly welcoming others and extending the best of what they have to give. The depth of this kind of hospitality is Hawaii’s way of life.
Throughout history, ho‘okipa is a tradition that’s carried Hawaiians through many difficult times. Alongside the value’s of ohana [o ha na], kuleana [ku lee ah na], and mālama [ma la ma], ho‘okipa ensures people and communities will not only survive but thrive. No matter what the circumstances, the people of Hawai’i have always done their best to take care of those around them. Whether that be a sharing of food, talking story and offering moral support, opening their homes and their lands to guests or sharing the abundance of their culture with foreigners.
It requires trust to give in a selfless way, especially to those who may not be close to you. Everyday we can practice living with trust that every experience is an opportunity. And our ability to show up in our highest way, in our imi’ola [ee me o la], allows us to fulfill our responsibility, our kuleana [ku lee ah na] and to give without the need to receive something in kind in return. We can trust that every exchange has a higher purpose, even the most mundane, and that living with ho’okipa allows us to stay in connection with this divine unfolding.
Ho’okipa is a value that aligns with generosity and abundance. Generosity can take many forms. Everyday, we have an opportunity to be generous with our thoughts, our time, our resources, and our person. In regards to ho’okipa it can be the act of receiving someone in conversation, in your home, in your business or out on the street in a way that feels inviting and warm. We all know what it is like, even in the smallest exchange, to feel kindness and care from another human being. When we offer that gift to another, we grow that in the world and aloha spreads. When we offer it without needing it to be returned or even acknowledged we grow it and spread it even more.
Compassion helps us see ourselves in another. It engages our empathy and our impulse to be of service. Compassion lays a foundation for selfless giving, and compassion can guide us through our daily interactions. When we can rest in the knowledge that most people are doing their best and sometimes just need a little support, it can be easy to offer our ho’okipa, our hospitality, our warmth, our kindness. When we wake up in the morning each day, we can remind ourselves to cultivate our compassion and let our aloha spirit flow out into the world and infuse those around us.