Perhaps the Longest, Most Awkward New Year’s Party in the World

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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.

After 40 years, Hmong community steps out

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Those Hmong who became refugees had assisted the CIA in a covert Locating marriageable communities: Cross-border matchmaking between Japan and.

In the age of Facebook, the ancient Hmong courtship ritual of pov pob — looking for true love by tossing balls with potential mates at Hmong New Year — is making a comeback. The tradition had been losing ground to the likes of friending and picking a match off a computer screen. How can this be stopped? Brenda Lee, 30, a financial advisor who met her boyfriend last year playing pov pob , said modern forms of matchmaking make Hmong singles all the more eager for face-to-face relating.

It makes you hungry for the old traditions. This is a chance to see the person, see if he laughs when he drops the ball. All year, people wait for the new year. They come here from the world over to play pov pob and hope for love. In the Laos and Thailand of old, the balls were made of colorful material and boys and girls courted one another by singing traditional love songs.

The Hmong have been in the United States about 35 years. The CIA recruited the isolated tribe, which lived in the mountains of Laos, to fight communists during the Vietnam War. In , the U. An estimated , Hmong died. Beginning in , the American government resettled some Hmong in the United States.

Dueling Hmong New Year celebrations have led to a lawsuit

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LUANG PRABANG, Laos — An annual Hmong festival that takes place in a small Laotian village is also a huge matchmaking festival.

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.

Caught admiring all the women parading their finest decorative garb, which has been painstakingly sewed from colorful swaths of psychedelic patterns that vary according to region, a grinning patron leads me to a booth where I am motioned to try on the traditional garments for myself. Emerging in full Hmong regalia, I am crowned with a neon tasseled cap and encouraged to pose against fluorescent backdrops of sprawling countryside scenery complete with soaring eagles.

But amid all the lighthearted fun, the most important New Year activity by far is the pov pob matchmaking game played primarily by adolescents looking for love. Standing in two parallel lines, impeccably-dressed singles shyly toss a cloth-covered ball back and forth in a courting ritual central to their way of life.

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Magnificent flowing silk dragons dancing in the street. Opulent feasts of auspicious-sounding dishes and sweets. Red envelopes stuffed with cash doled out to bowing children. China rings in the Lunar New Year in a big way.

Brenda Lee, 30, a financial advisor who met her boyfriend last year playing pov pob, said modern forms of matchmaking make Hmong singles.

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.

I watched other revelers swaying under a blue-and-white striped tarpaulin, where the makeshift dance floor was lit by a single fluorescent bulb. The dancers shuffled around the perimeter of the venue, rocking almost imperceptibly from side to side and holding their hands limply at waist-level like an army of hamsters. Yet what was not a customary or inspiring dance was certainly an effective way to conserve energy, and soon the purpose of their endurance-focused circumambulations revealed itself.

Khmong New Year

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.

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While people with darker skin tones are subjected to harsh discrimination and prejudice, fairness is revered and associated with beauty, wealth and power. This cultural bias is engrained from an early age, with women bearing more of the societal pressure to have lighter skin. For men, fair skin is seen as a bonus but not as much of a requirement.

‘Indian Matchmaking’ presents painful truths about skin color and love in India

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