Friday, July 22, 2011

Hawaii's Haunted Manoa Falls Trail

The Manoa Falls Trail is a premier example of the beauty Hawaii has to offer, and is a favorite filming location for television and movie.  The trail, which runs about 1.6 miles long, is dotted with exotic flora and fauna including a bamboo forest, and ending with a majestic waterfall.  One of the most unique features of this trail, and Hawaii itself, is the revered Banyan Tree.

Banyan trees are actually NOT native to the Hawaiian Islands, although they can be found there in abundance.  The first banyan trees to find their way to the islands were imported from India as gifts to the queens and kings of Hawaii.  Named for the banians (or merchants) who would gather under them to discuss strategy, the tree is quite unique, both in appearance and mythology.  The roots of the banyan tree are aerial prop roots, giving the tree the ability to spread out over a wide area and appear to be many different trees grouped together.

Found throughout Southeast Asia and parts of Africa, the mythology of the tree varies, but it is generally believed that these trees are the peaceful resting spots where lost spirits reside.  That belief carried over into Hawaiian mythology...but the famous banyan tree of the Manoa Falls Trail is a little less than peaceful.

The tree in question is located slightly off the path, at the mouth of the trail.  According to "Uncle Joe" Espinda, a tour guide with the Oahu Ghost Tours, the tree is located directly in the path of Hawaii's most prominent legend...the Night Marchers.

The Night Marchers, or Hukai-po, are often believed to be the armed spirits of warriors returning from, or entering battle.  Visitors to the banyan tree have reported that on certain nights, the faint drumming characteristic of these Night Marchers can be heard.

These witnesses are lucky.  It is believed that actually SEEING the procession of Night Marchers is a terrible omen, nearly always ending in a grim fate for the witness, or someone the witness knows.  These warriors are only seen during certain nights, and are often accompanied by the sight of raised torches, or the sounds of chanting and drumming.

Those who HAVE seen the apparitions have often reported that the ghostly procession floats several feet above ground, yet leave footprints in the earth below, signifying their presence.  If one DOES happen to run across these apparitions, they are advised to lie low to the ground, advert their eyes, and "play dead."

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