Village activity

Sticky rice is hard work!  (December 14th, 2020) Hmong New Year celebrations are traditionally held at the end of the rice harvest based on the lunar calendar. This year the events were curtailed due to the virus, but sticky rice was still produced in Phoumieng village. In the video below Bounchan, our village coordinator, is wearing a blue jacket with his back to us at the start. His wife, Noi, is in the pink sweater on the far right. Mother Daw – in the blue top & kerchief – is helping Noi wrap rice cakes in banana leaves. Toward the end of the video son Vong is holding another young villager and is quite pleased with himself.  

 
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Bounchan and Noi spent the afternoon of August 1st, 2019 with son, Vong, gathering bamboo shoots for a family meal that evening. (August 25th, 2019)  

 

The Hmong New Year (1)  (December 7th, 2018)  Starting off the New Year celebrations was a rope-loop ceremony to send away all the bad things of the old year: bad luck, bad omens, demons, negative forces, devils, etc. The intent is to protect all living family members from evil spirits. A loop is formed from a bent tree and a rope made from straw grass that is attached to the top and bottom of the tree.

 

Participants walk through the loop several times in one direction, and then repeat in the opposite direction. Once finished the shaman conducting the ceremony blesses participants with good fortune, health, luck, prosperity, and happiness for the upcoming year. A rooster who was part of the ceremony was not so fortunate.

 

The photos:

The first photo shows kids arriving first as the loop is prepared. In the 2nd photo the loop appears; the bundle of plant fronds suspended above the ground will be pulled aside as people march through. Notice that the man wearing the camouflage hat is holding plant fronds in his right hand, and also a rooster dangling head downward in the 3rd photo. In the 4th photo the left, bent-over woman is reaching for an axe; it’s never good to be a rooster in such ceremonies. Notice that the plant fronds are attached by symbolic red cloth strips to the tree.

 

The 5th photo shows the collapsed loop, followed by one showing people bending to go through the loop under the bundle of plant fronds. Photo 7 shows people moving through the loop in the reverse direction – notice the houses in the rear. Photo 8 has a good view of the surrounding mountains as people are passing out of the loop. The woman in the indigo top is doing double duty with a baby on her back and front. The child on her back is keeping an eye on us.

 

There is no mobile reception in the village, but the 2 phones evident in the photos are an indication of how reasonable phones &  rates are in Laos, unlike Canada where we are completely ripped off !!