So, why “Elilai Petals”?

February 7, 2010 at 4:09 pm 3 comments

The title of this blog pays direct homage to my birthplace – the absolutely gorgeous Palau. When I came into the world on this Micronesian island, my parents were offered a native name for their baby. Choosing not to pass up this unique honour (for foreigners), they chose to name me Elilai (pronounced “el-lee-lie” {last syllable rhymes with bye}).

Now the Palauan language is a beautifully tricky thing. The name Elilai means the plumeria/frangipani flower. (In case you’ve never seen this flower before, some pictures are included at the bottom.) However, that particular spelling refers only to the name of a person. When pertaining to the flower itself, the name is spelled Chelilai. But here’s where the trickiness comes in: The ch is silent, so it’s pronounced the same way.

So my title is a play on words. Elilai is me, the blog entries are the petals, and the petals are pieces of Elilai.

Pink Chelilai

White Chelilai

Pink Chelilai (with long, thin petals)

Photo Sources

Blog header:

Pink Chelilai:

White Chelilai:

Pink Chelilai with thin petals:



Entry filed under: Behind the Name. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , .

One woman’s “wish-they-fit-me”s are another’s new wardrobe…

3 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Cindy  |  February 14, 2010 at 1:19 pm

    I did not know this about you. I love the Pink Chelilai with the roundish petals!

  • 2. Richy  |  July 21, 2010 at 8:27 am

    I growwhite Cheliai plants on my screened in porch in Acworth GA. I can only bring them out when it is hot. I have to put them in the basement during the winter. I get one bundle I have to put theI wish I had enough blooms to make a lei. Elilai is a cool name. When I lived in Hawaii for 10 years I had a girl friend named Dacia.

    • 3. sarahmunn  |  July 21, 2010 at 10:05 am

      That’s great you can grow them! They grow here in St. Lucia, but only sporadically, and I’ve noticed that they are smaller and less aromatic than in the Pacific. Is Dacia a flower as well? Which one?


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