Learn about the culture of the Hmong people in Vietnam

Nga Do
In Vietnam, the Hmong people are one of the largest ethnic minorities (around 900,000 people). Their main habitation area is in the mountains north of Vietnam. There are many different tribes among the Hmong. Although they share the same origin, they have different languages, customs and dressing styles. Luckily for those of us who are just visitors to the region, each Hmong group can be identified by the color of the clothing they wear.

There are not enough historical records about the origin of these people. The Hmong came to Vietnam from South China about 300 years ago, during the reign of Ming and Qing dynasties. The arrival directly linked to their rebellion against Chinese imperialism. The large number of Hmong is living in Sapa or Lao Cai province. Husband´s duties includes the care for the whole family, he takes all major decisions regarding safety and welfare of the family. He is also seen as a main source of money. His wife must be a good housewife taking care of children and cooking meals. Part of the responsibilities of women is handicraft such handmade traditional clothing or jewelry.

Marriage traditions are very interesting in Sapa. ‘Love Market’ or ‘Cho Tinh’ taken place on every Saturday at Plaza in the main Sapa town. It was a genuine way of finding a groom but nowadays it’s become a place to attract tourists and get some quick cash. Years ago, on Saturday nights, members of the Red Dao tribe would go to Sapa’s main square where young girls would be singing, hidden away in the dark. If any boy liked the voice, he would find the young girl out, court her and follow it up with a romp to the forest for three days. If the interest was mutual, such trips would usually ends up in marriage.

Another fascinating and a bit scary custom is marriage by kidnapping. A young man kidnaps a girl he likes with the help of his friends and family. He informs his new in-laws only two days after the kidnap. However, the kidnapping is a symbolic act. Girls usually know that they will be kidnapped as they are given a gift two days in advance by the man. If she is not interested in such match she can always refuse and return to her parents’ home with any family member that comes to save her. And if she likes her new partner then the man’s family pays the Bride price either in cash or by livestock such as buffalo to support the bride’s family.

The Hmong people traditionally believe in animism. This is to believe that everything has a soul or spirit. The Hmong tribe also believes there is a superior being that created all of these living beings. The spiritual world coexists with the physical world but can influence human life due to the multiple spirits that exist in the material world.

Another strong belief among the Hmong people is Karma. According to that we all should always do good deeds to receive good deeds in life. Karma is strongly believed all across Asia but Hmong believes that souls return to earth each time after time, and life on earth is designated by luck, and by karma. It is said that people born with birth defects, mental retardation, handicaps, and chronic illnesses are often regarded as paying for sins committed in past lives.

There are many other amazing things to learn about this ethnic minority in Vietnam. Better to be seen than told, thus make sure you will not miss out on the picturesque landscapes and unique culture. Companion us for the most exciting experiences in Vietnam: http://sapatoursfromhanoi.com/contact-us/

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