Hmong heritage honored through event

Women do a traditional Hmong dance at Monday’s heritage event. Photo credit: Shannon Miller

The red lights on stage dimmed and an announcer wearing a headdress welcomed the audience to Monday’s third annual Hmong Heritage Day: Five Reasons to Kill a Pig performance.


The event featured traditional dance using hand and body movements to tell a story, “Bollywood” themed songs and the skit Five Reasons to Kill a Pig, which told the story of Pao, his family’s culture and animal sacrifice.


According to the The Five Reasons To Kill a Pig handout, rituals include:


1. Calling the soul of a baby

2. Bestowing an adult name after the baby is born

3. Funerals

4. Healing

5. Honoring and protecting the family spirit


Larly Lee, a senior multicultural and gender studies major and president of the Hmong Student Association, talked about the misunderstandings of Hmong and how each Asian culture differs from one another.


“The stereotype ‘oh Asians eat dogs;’ no,” Lee said. “For our cultures, we don’t do that, and so a lot of people, they get that mistake. No, not all Asian people eat dogs; that’s another culture.”

Lee doesn’t wants the university community to know the difference between Asian cultures and not stereotype Hmong culture.


“It’s easy to categorize, and we should respect others for their history, their culture and their traditions,” she said.


Stacey Xiong, a senior English major who wrote the skit, said about 70-100 people were in attendance.


“A lot of the Hmong kids these days they’re kind of like in the story,” Xiong said. “Pao doesn’t know why they are killing the pig, so that’s exactly how they are seeing the way the parents go and they buy the pig.”


Yer Thao, a Chico State alumnus and adviser for the Chico Student Success Center, was the narrator in the skit.


“Any time there is any type of celebration, you sacrifice an animal, and I remember having to hide that from my white friends because they would never understand why we had to sacrifice a pig,” Thao said.


She didn’t feel she could invite some friends to her wedding because they wouldn’t accept the animal sacrifice tradition.


“I think that’s why the Hmong students want to educate the crowd,” Thao said. “It’s because of all these reasons we do have spiritual rituals for doing the things we do. It’s not animal cruelty for fun.”

Thao found the event to be empowering because it was accepting of different cultures.

“Don’t let go of your heritage just because you feel like its embarrassing or that it’s holding you back,” Thao said.


Amanda Hovik can be reached at [email protected] or @AmandaHovik on Twitter.