It was a special day for members of the Polynesian voyaging canoe Hokulea as the Dalai Lama paid a personal visit to bless the vessel ahead of a worldwide expedition in 2013.
The spiritual leader of Tibet was treated to traditional Hawaiian blessings and chants as he arrived for a private ceremony at Kualoa Beach Park shortly after 1:30 p.m. Monday.
The event was sponsored by the Hawaii Community Foundation, a local charity that sponsored the Dalai Lama's visit to the state under its new initiative, Pillars of Peace Hawaii: Building peace through a foundation of Aloha.
After listening to messages of Aloha in English and Native Hawaiian, the Dalai Lama consecrated the Hokulea with a scattering of salt and flowers.
Nainoa Thompson, navigator for the Polynesian Voyaging Society, said he sees many similarities between the native cultures of Tibet and Hawaii as far as how people go about their daily lives.
"The bridge is really a kind of core universal value," said Thompson. "Hawaii is a culture of kindness and it's still that way, where many parts of the world it's not."
During a 20-minute question and answer session with reporters, the Dalai Lama spoke about the promotion of peace, which will be part of the Hokulea's message during its voyage to 28 countries that features 45 port-of-calls.
"Genuine peace must come through inner peace," said the Dalai Lama. "Full of anger here, how can (you) achieve peace," His Holiness added while pointing to his heart.
With the Dalai Lama's blessing, Thompson said he and the rest of the Hokulea crew feel as though they have been granted permission to go forward on their journey.
"We can't think of anybody better to grant permission to open the door," said Thompson. "We're eternally grateful."
During his stay in Hawaii, the Dalai Lama held two discussions at the Stan Sheriff Center at the University of Hawaii Manoa campus.
He leaves the Aloha State en route to California, where he'll attend a conference on climate change at the University of Hawaii San Diego.