Aloha granite sign

One of six granite signs around the island. Photo by Barbara Bennett

Residents may note that five of six red granite signs placed strategically around the island and carved with messages of aloha are sparkling like new once again. The sixth is soon to be refurbished.

The stone signs, imported from India, are a gift given by Satguru Sivaya Subramuniyaswami, affectionately known as Gurudeva. The founder of the Kaua`i Hindu Monastery, Gurudeva gave the signs to the people of Kaua`i in 2001. According to a blog on the Monastery’s website, they are carved from the same granite used in constructing the new San Marga Iraivan Temple in Wailua.

Former Mayor Maryanne Kusaka recalls Gurudeva coming to her office and expressing that it was important that leaders of the island network and from that time, community leaders gathered as they sought to find a vision for the island. They searched for something they believed would describe the beauty and heart of Kaua`i.

“At one point, we decided that what we were doing is describing aloha,” says Kusaka. She adds that Gurudeva believed it was a wise choice for a vision because “it says so many more things than words can express.”

Drawing upon the vision work, Gurudeva had three of the granite signs inscribed with the message, “Aloha – It’s Kaua`i’s Spirit.” Three more of the stone signs bear the inscription, “Kaua`i — One island, many peoples, all Kauaians.”

He unveiled them at an open house on the temple grounds in July, 2001.

Says Kusaka, “I saw Gurudeva’s vision. His vision of this island is oneness and he wanted to keep it fresh in minds of all Kauaians and visitors.

“The way he expressed it encapsulated the definition of aloha. He meant we came from many backgrounds, yet we were all Kauaians, we all lived here in harmony, and that’s the message he wanted to get out.”

These six gifts of Gurudeva are located as follows: at the police station in Princeville; at Lydgate Park; in Po`ipu, where there are two — one at Po`ipu Beach Park and the other at the fire station; at Nawiliwili Park; and at the park by Kekaha Neighborhood Center.

Kusaka says Gurudeva challenged her to find locations and workmen to fashion rock encasements so the signs could withstand heavy winds and strong weather. Her friend, Rosie Bukoski, found the laborers — Tongan stone workers — Bukoski donated lava rocks from her backyard in Koloa.

A decade later, a friend called to Kusaka’s attention the state of the signs, and, Kusaka agreed, saying, “I noticed they were looking horrible.”

Stained by weather, mildew, mold and other elements, they clearly need refurbishing. When Kusaka contacted the temple to discuss it, there was no hesitation. Says Kusaka, “They’ll take care of it as long as it needs to be taken care of.”

Kusaka goes on to say, “I was so touched. I’ve done so many volunteer projects and many times after a project is done, it’s neglected in later years.

“In this case, it’s so gratifying to see the Hindu temple say ‘it was something our Gurudeva did that we want to perpetuate in his honor.’ This brought joy to my heart.

“It’s a legacy that carries on his gift to Kaua`i that will live on in time.”