Dead

 
 

     Hmong people believe that the dead personís spirit is sent to heaven when the ceremony is completed. They believe that the dead person has merit because that person can meet their ancestors and dead relatives. When a person dies, a member in family will shoot a gun into the sky three times to tell other people in the village.†

     The body is washed. The men wear womenís clothes and a belt, and the women change to wear menís clothing. The face is covered by a red cloth to hide it from people who come to the ceremony. The body is laid out opposite the door, and the wrists are tied by red strings until the funeral ceremony is finished. The Chinese Hmong believe that when someone falls down near the house, the dead body must have a reassurance ceremony because they think the spirit of the dead body will take the spirit of the fallen person.†

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     Hmong people believe that when the spirit goes to hell, it peels onions and cannot go to heaven. So they will bind the dead bodyís fingers by the red strings to tell that the spirit has wound in the body, and put shoes on it because the spirit must ford the caterpillar river and cross the green worm mountain.

The dead body is put on a table, close to the shrine of the house. They will give three separate food offerings to the body. Afterwards, they will shoot a gun three times and light a lamp on the dead body, when the relatives are gathered together.
      The relatives will repay the dead personís debts before burial to free them, give them wealth, and also happiness in the future life.† When the relatives come together, a chicken is killed as an offering and black magic prayers are said, to direct the body to the next world. The relatives who attend the ceremony make a boat from silver and gold paper which the spirit uses along the journey to next world.†
      If the dead person is elderly, the relatives make their respects (ĎXyomí) each morning and evening. A ceremony which dresses the body in embroidered clothes is performed in order to give a farm to all the spirits, making them rich in the next world. †

     Before burial, the ceremony leader teaches to any visitors from 8pm until 2am.† †
     On burial day many neighbors come to attend the ceremony. The lineage will clean the body before burial and they have to kill a cow to worship the dead person. Some families will do the ceremony again outside, before taking the body to the graveyard to bury around 4pm.

     In the procession, a woman will take a torch to give direction to the dead body. When the procession has passed through the village she will throw the torch away and run back, because the Hmong believe that then the spirit cannot find its way back home. The procession finally arrives at the graveyard, where a black magic prayer is performed, and the body is put in a well-placed grave that gives a blessing and beneficial effects for the descendents. After the funeral has finished, they family members put stones and twigs on the grave, and burn the silver and gold papers (or anything else they have offered) given to the dead body. The table that takes the dead body to the graveyard is sawn up, as the Hmong believe that then it cannot take life from the people in the village.

During the funeral ceremony, to let the spirit reach heaven, no-one can pick any flowers or leaves. Also the entire lineage may not cry on the way to the graveyard because the spirit would be concerned, and unable to go to the next world. The older dead around hillside are buried thus: those on the left will have a female ancestor and on the right a male ancestor. Hmong do not bury children on the same day as their parents because they will not prosper; and they wonít bury other dead bodies in the same row because that dead body will snatch the place to make a farm and come to interfere with any family member that has an illness. A childís body can be buried in the same row because the children can play together. †††

 The family makes a fence to protect the grave from animals or insects, and relatives may not visit the grave until 13 days after burial. On that day they have to free the spirit, so it can go to the next world.Hmong people believe that the grave or graveyard which has overgrown grass, like spinach, means that the family has peace. A person who dies from the result of an accident or killed by violence is not taken to the house or buried the same way.
      The Hmong will be in mourning for 13 days, and during that time, they cannot wash their clothes or brush their hair, because the dirt drops in the bodyís food. They donít draw strings because it snuggles up to the legs of the body, or sew clothes because the needle stabs the body. The husband or wife of the dead person cannot marry until 13 days have passed because it makes the dead concerned about their welfare. Hmong people then converse and cover the coffin with earth, stones and branches. †