Nina Boys is our guest blogger for the second time. A cloth-covered ball whizzes past my face, just grazing my cheek. Jolted, I spin around to a row of giggling young women wearing dazzling multi-hued outfits and ornate strands of sparkling coins that jangle as they teeter precariously on Crayola-colored heels. Completely absorbed by the festivities all around, I had inadvertently walked into the Hmong matchmaking game of pov pob around which their New Year celebrations revolve. Participants prepare all year for the multi-day celebrations that begin in individual villages before snowballing into larger parties where normally isolated communities gather to socialize, perform — and perhaps most importantly — court romantic partners outside of their own clans. I beeline for the low plastic stools that all but guarantee a delicious meal in Laos and am not disappointed when a steaming bowl of aromatic noodles laced with lemongrass is ladled from the large metal cauldron simmering atop open flames and passed my way. The Hmong harvest season has just ended and the fruits of their labor can be savored in a variety of traditional dishes here, including the chili-spiked sausages sizzling on the grill beside me, just waiting to be paired with homemade rice whiskey or the beloved national Beerlao. While the crowd continues to grow, the first of many performances featuring traditional dancers, musicians playing handcrafted khaen bamboo pipes, and beauty queens gets underway.
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And like the matchmaking, ball tossing game played at every New Year’s celebration, leaders of the Hmong National Council hope the lawsuit.
Two organizations will host separate celebrations this year. And a search of court documents uncovered a newly filed lawsuit showing how deep the divide between those organizations has become. The celebration at the Fresno Fairgrounds has drawn as many as , people in a single year. But last year, a splinter group held its festival at a city park. Now the group behind that celebration is suing to take over at the fairgrounds. Organizers with the Hmong National Council expect a crowd of 70, people at the park during the weeklong festivities starting Monday.
Six miles across town at the Fresno Fairgrounds, organizers are setting the stage for their own New Year’s celebration. The fairgrounds festival hosted by the Hmong International New Year foundation is the senior celebration. But many in the Hmong community feel like the leaders have lost sight of their original purpose. So, they started the new event. The lawsuit also claims the Hmong National Council is the rightful owner of the rights to host a celebration at the fairgrounds.
This isn’t the first time Fresno played host to two Hmong New Year’s celebrations. And like the matchmaking, ball tossing game played at every New Year’s celebration, leaders of the Hmong National Council hope the lawsuit can help unite the two groups again.
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The slightly hidden festival symbolically represents San Diego’s Hmong community, which has kept a low profile since its first refugees began arriving in the U. But that invisibility, says San Diego Police Sgt. Paul Yang, is beginning to change. Last week, the San Diego City Council declared December as Hmong Heritage Month, in recognition of the region’s 4, to 5, Hmong refugees and their contributions to local culture and the economy.
The designation couldn’t come a moment too soon, said Yang, who is director of the city’s Multi-Cultural Community Relations Office.
Those Hmong who became refugees had assisted the CIA in a covert Locating marriageable communities: Cross-border matchmaking between Japan and.
Everybody comes to reunite and remember our culture and where we came from,” said Lor, one of eight sisters and two brothers born in the United States to immigrant parents from Laos. With attendance of almost 5, on Saturday and slightly less than that Sunday at the San Joaquin County Fairgrounds in south Stockton, Hmong New Year was a family affair with an emphasis on safety and security this year, said Dr.
Lao Family is a nonprofit social-services agency that assists families with becoming independent and productive participants in the community. Within Hmong culture, the traditional New Year’s festival is celebrated based on a lunar calendar around the time of the annual rice harvest in late fall. It is their most important holiday of the year, when families traditionally gather for a special meal of boiled chicken and tofu served with pounded, cooked rice dipped in cane sugar syrup.
As the festivities were winding down Sunday afternoon, athletic young men – three to a team on either side of a low-slung volleyball net – were playing kato, in which you’re only allowed to hit the softball-size ball with your foot or head over the net. Dancers and singers from area high schools performed on a stage, with a special emphasis on promoting gang awareness for young people and their parents. Festivalgoers wandered among numerous food booths and gift vendors.
It’s the sequel to the animated children’s hit movie “Khan Kluay” about a blue elephant. One of the problems in Laos is a lack of opportunities for education,” said Dr. Noting that the Hmong community first established itself in the United States more than 30 years ago following the end of the Vietnam War, Xiong said its old-country traditions “could easily disappear after one generation.
Dueling Hmong New Year celebrations have led to a lawsuit
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They knew the Hmong people had an agricultural background, so they contacted managers at local markets and did some “matchmaking,”.
Pakou Hang, co-founder and executive director of the Hmong American Farmers Association , suggests just that as she shares five things you might not have known about Hmong food and farming in Minnesota. The first Hmong refugees began arriving in Minnesota 40 years ago. Today, the Twin Cities metro area is home to the largest urban population of Hmong people in the country. Hang said researchers from the University of Minnesota Extension reached out in the early s to new Hmong refugees who had begun arriving in the state.
They knew the Hmong people had an agricultural background, so they contacted managers at local markets and did some “matchmaking,” Hang said. The growing season here is shorter, too, but Hmong staples like bok choy and some the mustard greens can all grow here. The Hmong are members of an ethnic group that have not had a country of their own. For thousands of years, the Hmong lived in southwestern China. But when the Chinese began limiting their freedom in the mids, many migrated to Laos, Thailand and other neighboring countries.
The traditional Hmong meal included rice, some type of protein, a vegetable, another vegetable in some type of broth and a chili sauce.
After 40 years, Hmong community steps out
The locals had toiled in the glaring heat on steeply sloping fields throughout the year to harvest their crops, and now I, too, was able to savor the fruits of their labor. I cradled a warm Beerlao, made from hops picked nearby, enjoying the crisp national brew in the remote and dusty town. The locals favored a cheaper alternative: half a dozen men sat in a circle on the ground, sipping homemade whiskey from a large jar through meter-long straws.
Event aims to restore ethnic group’s pride, prosperity. This year, more than 3, young men and women came to find good matches. On Jan. The village square was packed with young Hmong men and women dressed in colorful garb. Facing each other at a distance of a few meters, potential matches throw a ball made of fabric, measuring about 5cm across, back and forth. While doing this, they ask each other questions like which Hmong tribe they are from, what village they live in, their ages or other details about family, hobbies, jobs, annual income — or when they hope to get married.
The ritual, accompanied by song, often lasts an hour, with family members cheering on participants. The Hmong are not supposed to marry people with the same surname, because they are believed to share a common ancestor. With many people in the same village having the same surname, young Hmong people often have to find partners in other villages. The festival offers an excellent opportunity because it draws participants from many different villages throughout Luang Prabang Province.
Lee Por Thon, the mayor of Phousangkham village, said he is happy to see young people communicating with each other, and that it would be good if they can find partners and have children, helping the Hmong prosper. Galian from Luang Prabang, who was looking for someone to play catch with in the square, said she wants to get married if she can find a good match.
The year-old said personality is more important than looks, adding that she wants to find someone kind and caring.
Perhaps the Longest, Most Awkward New Year’s Party in the World
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Many of Lor’s family members were wearing colorful Hmong and a unique matchmaking game for young people involving ball tossing.
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