The Hmong people is a minority ethnic group that resides in several countries worldwide. Hmong people is originally from Laos, a Asian country. The Hmong people usually resides on the mountains and their life has revolved around their inherent lifestyle and beliefs. War and migration along with the long history of being an oppressed ethnic group developed Hmong way of life. However, the Hmong culture is so persistent despite the forces of change around. The typical day of a Hmong family will start usually at four in the morning or when the rooster crows.
The oldest daughter or daughter-in-law prepare the breakfast for the family, feed the animals and do the household chores. The husband occasionally helps his wife in feeding the animals and grinding the corn. After breakfast, the working members of the family will head out to the field and leave their children at the care of their paternal grandparents. Children who are six years old and older accompany their parents in the fields and do what they can do to help. The working members of the family usually go home before sunset and they gather firewood, plants and herbs along the way to add to their supplies at home.
Hmong always have dinner together as a family and share stories of the day. A traditional Hmong family is patriarchal and the son tends to not to leave the house of his parents to work for them and to have someone to take care of his children while he and his wife is out tending the fields. Hmong are group oriented and they tend to depend on each other for survival. Thus, the interest of the groups must come first before the vested interest of the individual. “Family is the basic social unit in the conventional Hmong society. It is the unit of production, consumption, socialization, social control and mutual assistance.
The common Hmong family is composed of an extended family that is made up of many generations. Hmong people are animists, they acquire strong belief in spirits and the supernatural world that cannot be explained by exact science. However, most of the Hmong people in United States become Christians but the traditional spiritual beliefs remain in them as part of their cultural practices. Still, practices and ceremonies are altered as Hmong adapt on the American society. Hmong people deeply believes that the souls live in a supernatural world. These spirits decide when a person dies.
Also, they believe that these spirits or souls are Hmong people waiting to be born or to be reborn and reenter the earth. Furthermore, many Hmong believe that every person has a personal spirit who takes care of him, just like a guardian angel. Contacts with these spirits is usually done by the shaman or the religious and medical leader of the group. The shaman is the Hmong resident physician and their role is mainly to heal sick people and to prevent further spreading of illness or disease through interaction of the spirits. The shaman is one of the most important people in the Hmong village.
He is the one who provides hope in times of crises. The shaman also guides the people in difficult situations. In addition to the shaman, Hmong people also practice traditional alternative medicine through the use of herbs and plants which grow in the wild in the mountains. From these plants, they produce ointments and salves to help them with their injuries and to make the sick feel better. However, Hmong people in the United States adapted to the American modernized medicine. But still, Hmong people continue to visit a shaman once in a while as part of their rich and undying custom and tradition.