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Ala (Hala)

Ala or Hala is a term that has multiple meanings and interpretations across different cultures and languages. In some mythologies, Ala refers to a female demon associated with bad weather, particularly hail-producing thunderclouds. These demons are believed to target fields, vineyards, and orchards to destroy crops or loot them away. The term is recorded in the folklore of Bulgarians, Macedonians, and Serbs.

In Spanish, Hala is an interjection that can be spelled in three different ways: hala, ala, and alá. It has multiple meanings, including encouragement, excitement, and surprise. “Hala Madrid” is a popular phrase used by fans of the Real Madrid football club to show their support and excitement. The spelling of the interjection is interchangeable, and it is easy to use in different contexts.

Ala is also a word used in different contexts, such as referring to the flying organs of animals or insects, the extensions on airplanes that help them stay in the air, or the different trends or currents in a particular field. In Arabic, the word Halal refers to food that is permissible for Muslims to consume. The term is commonly used in the food industry and is associated with specific dietary guidelines.

Cultural Significance of Ala (Hala)

Historical Context

Ala (Hala) has played an important role in the cultural history of Hawaii and the broader Pacific. The plant has been used for a variety of purposes, including food, medicine, and material for weaving baskets, mats, and hats. The aerial roots of female hala were used as cordage, while the soft part of the male flowers (hīnano) were chewed by a mother and given to infants and young children as a laxative. Adults also used it for a laxative. The aerial root tips called “scales” were pounded, juice strained, and heated.

Symbolism and Mythology

In Hawaiian mythology, the hala tree is associated with the goddess Hina, who is known as the mother of the hala tree. According to legend, Hina was a goddess of the moon who lived in a cave in the mountains. She was known for her beauty and her skill in weaving baskets and mats from the leaves of the hala tree. The tree was also believed to have healing properties, and its leaves were used in traditional medicine to treat a variety of ailments.

Contemporary Relevance

Today, Ala (Hala) remains an important part of Hawaiian culture and is used in a variety of ways. The plant is still used for weaving baskets, mats, and hats, and its fruit is used as a food source. The hala tree is also an important symbol of Hawaiian culture, representing strength, resilience, and the connection between the land and the people. The plant is also used in modern medicine, with research suggesting that it may have anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties.

Botanical Characteristics

Plant Description

Hala, also known as Pandanus tectorius, is a small tree that grows upright and can reach up to 4-14 meters in height. The tree has a single trunk that is slender with brown-ringed bark. It has spiny leaves that can grow up to 4.5-11 meters in width and forks at a height of 4-8 meters. The leaves are exceptional for weaving mats, hats, roof thatching, canoe sails, baskets, sandals, fans, and so much more.

Habitat and Distribution

Hala is primarily a coastal plant and throughout much of its range is found only on beaches and coastal forests, rarely higher than a few meters above sea level. In Hawaii, however, hala forests can be found up to 610 meters in elevation often several miles away from the coast. Hala is among the most important plants in the ecology and history of Hawaii and the broader Pacific.

Growth and Lifecycle

The fruit of the female hala tree can be made into striking yellow to deep-orange lei. The fruit is edible and sometimes known as hala fruit. The preparation of lau hala was done only by women in old Hawaii. At least six color forms are known and were frequently used by the lei maker. The common yellow to red keys and Hala ʻīkoi are some of the forms used.

Uses of Ala (Hala)

Culinary Applications

Ala (Hala) fruit is edible and has a sweet, fragrant flavor. Its pulp can be eaten fresh or cooked to make jams, jellies, and syrups. The fruit is also used in traditional Polynesian cuisine to flavor fish and meat dishes. Additionally, the fruit can be fermented to make an alcoholic beverage.

Medicinal Properties

Ala (Hala) has been used in traditional medicine to treat a variety of ailments. The leaves and roots of the plant are used to make a tea that is believed to have diuretic properties and can be used to treat urinary tract infections. The fruit is also believed to have antiseptic properties and can be used to treat wounds.

Craft and Construction

Ala (Hala) has been used for centuries in traditional Polynesian craft and construction. The leaves of the plant are used to make mats, baskets, and hats. The aerial roots of the female plant are used to make cordage, which can be used for fishing nets and other purposes. The wood of the plant is also used to make furniture and other decorative items.

In conclusion, Ala (Hala) is a versatile plant with a wide range of uses. Its fruit can be eaten or fermented, its leaves and roots have medicinal properties, and it has been used for centuries in traditional Polynesian craft and construction.

Conservation and Sustainability

Environmental Threats

ALA recognizes the importance of conserving and protecting the environment. The organization acknowledges that there are various environmental threats that pose a risk to the planet. Climate change, pollution, deforestation, and loss of biodiversity are some of the significant challenges that require immediate attention. These environmental threats have far-reaching consequences, including the extinction of species, soil degradation, and the depletion of natural resources.

Conservation Efforts

ALA has taken several measures to promote conservation and sustainability. In 2019, the organization adopted sustainability as one of its core values of librarianship. The ALA Special Task Force on Sustainability recommended this adoption, emphasizing the need for balanced decision-making that respects environmental stewardship, social equity, and economic feasibility. ALA Continuing Education launched a sustainability course in partnership with the University of Wisconsin-Madison to equip librarians with knowledge and skills to promote sustainable practices.

The ALA Sustainability Round Table (SustainRT) was established to provide resources for the library community to support sustainability through curriculum development, collections, exhibits, events, advocacy, communication, library buildings, and space design. SustainRT is open to all ALA members and includes both individual and organizational members. The ALA Annual Conference and Exhibition also offers an opportunity to promote environmentally conscious policies focused on resource conservation and sustainable business practices.

Ala (Hala) in Art and Literature

Ala (Hala) has been a popular subject in art and literature. In Serbian folklore, ala is often depicted as a beautiful woman with long hair, wearing a white dress. On the other hand, in Bulgarian folklore, ala is portrayed as an old woman with a hump on her back.

In literature, Ala (Hala) has been portrayed as a demon of bad weather who brings hail-producing thunderclouds to destroy crops. In the novel “The Hala Tree” by John Miller, Hala is a mythical tree that is said to have healing powers. In the novel “Hala and the Colored Stories” by A. K. Choudhary, Hala is a young girl who faces various challenges in her life.

Ala (Hala) has also been a subject of many paintings and sculptures. One such painting is “Ala and the Clouds” by Serbian artist Nadežda Petrović. In this painting, Ala is depicted as a beautiful woman with long hair, holding a bunch of grapes in her hand. Another painting is “Ala and the Hail” by Bulgarian artist Nikola Manev. In this painting, Ala is depicted as an old woman with a hump on her back, holding a staff in her hand.

Overall, Ala (Hala) has been an important subject in art and literature, and has been portrayed in various ways depending on the cultural context.

Economic Importance

The halal industry has been growing at a rapid pace in recent years, with the global spend by Muslim consumers projected to reach US$2.4 trillion by 2024. This includes a significant portion of spending on halal food products. The increasing demand for halal products has created a significant economic opportunity for businesses that cater to the halal market.

One of the key reasons for the economic importance of the halal industry is the size of the Muslim population. Muslims represent a significant portion of the world’s population, with an estimated 1.8 billion Muslims worldwide. This large population provides a significant market for halal products, making it an attractive opportunity for businesses.

Another factor contributing to the economic importance of the halal industry is the growing awareness of halal products among non-Muslim consumers. Many non-Muslim consumers are now seeking out halal products due to their perceived quality, safety, and ethical standards. This has opened up new markets for halal products, further increasing their economic importance.

In addition to the economic benefits for businesses, the halal industry also has important social and cultural significance. Halal products are an important part of Muslim culture and are often associated with religious observance and tradition. The growth of the halal industry has helped to promote and preserve these cultural traditions, providing an important source of identity and community for Muslims around the world.

Research and Studies

Ala (Hala) has been the subject of various studies and research initiatives. One study conducted on human cholangiocarcinoma cell lines found that Aminolevulinic acid (ALA) derivatives-based photodynamic therapy showed cytotoxicity against cancer cells with negligible harm to normal cell lines. The study also used ala-ala as an inhibitor of ALA to further understand its effects on cholangiocarcinoma cells.

The American Library Association (ALA) conducts a yearly survey of the Chief Officers of State Library Agencies (COSLA) to gauge the currents in the world of public library funding and broadband access. The survey provides valuable feedback on levels of state funding for libraries, bandwidth needs, closures, and reductions in hours. The results of the survey help the ALA to identify areas that need improvement and to develop initiatives that can benefit libraries and their patrons.

Undergraduate research is an area that has gained significant attention in recent years. The academic librarian plays a crucial role in supporting undergraduate research initiatives. The book, “Undergraduate Research and the Academic Librarian: Case Studies and Best Practices,” explores the expanded definitions of research and the changes wrought in the profession and the world in the intervening years. The book contains case studies that examine first-year undergraduate research models, cohort-based models, and other models that support undergraduate research initiatives.