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ISSUE 116 VOL 8 PUBLISHED 11/8/2002

'Continuing the Story Cloth' during New Year celebration

By Anonymous
Contributing Writer

Friday, November 8, 2002

The St. Olaf Hmong Awareness Group (HAG) together with Carletons Coalition of Hmong Students (CHS) are preparing to kick off the fifth Annual Hmong New Year Celebration this Saturday. Speakers, food and activities will grace the Pause as this celebration of culture continues a legacy based on custom and tradition. Continuing the Story Cloth is the theme chosen for this year. The theme speaks to the growth of the community in the United States and how we are becoming more noticed as part of the society, said Lisa Passus 04. The cloth to which the theme refers to has pictures that tell a story. These woven textiles or paaj ntaub come in many different shapes, sizes and colors, yet they all tell a story. The particular story for this years theme begins with the Hmong migration to the United States after the Vietnam War, to finding a place in America, to making advancements in this society to prepare for first-generation Hmong-Americans. The New Year celebration is traditionally reserved as a time of rest in Hmong culture. In the agriculture-based society of Laos, the Hmong community celebrates the new year after the harvest. At this time, in addition to celebrating culture and custom, the Hmong engage in various traditions that they do not have time for during the farming season. One of the major traditions of the New Year is courting. Some Hmong men hope to find their future wife while some other Hmong people come to enjoy the beautiful costumes, crafts, arts, food and learn about new things that might have surfaced in the Hmong community, said Mee Vang 04. Many weddings are held during the season of new beginnings because of this ritual. The ball tossing game was originally part of the courtship ritual, said Vang Xiong 03. Today it is used as a way for young people to get to know each other. During the ritual, while a soft black ball or tennis ball is thrown back and forth, the couple can talk to each other and get to know one another, she said. The new moon, which the Hmong live by, and the celebration symbolize culture in the realm of a new beginning, a new year and a chance to start new lives. The essence of traditional garb, food and an overflow of activities building cultural knowledge will create a similar ambiance on campus. Speakers on the program include Senator of East St. Paul District 67, Mee Moua, book author and magazine jounal editor Mai Neng Moua 95. The event will also feature a poetry slam and folklorist play-acting. A DJ dance will continue the Hmong New Year celebration in the Pause Saturday night. The celebration is only a small portion of the history of the Hmong people. In this New Year Celebration, there is a statement being made: this group no longer wants to be seen solely as the visitors from Southeast Asia, but as neighbors and fellow American citizens. I hope the St. Olaf community joins Hmong students in continuing their Story Cloth, said Linda Her 03.

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