Over the centuries the ethnic Hmong people migrated from China and dispersed throughout the highlands of southern China,Laos and Vietnam.They live primarily as self-sufficient farmers and gatherers. In 1961, the U.S. Army began recruiting Hmong people in Laos to fight in a secret part of the larger Vietnam War. In 1975, the U.S. retreated, leaving Laos under Communist control, and they were targeted for genocide. Many of them fled to neighboring countries, and a significant number sought asylum in the United States.Traditional Hmong society is very ordered and a marriage partner must be found from another clan.The ball throwing game takes place during the Hmong New Year celebration, because they usually work all year round and have no time for courtship. It is held at the beginning of the first lunar calendar month, which is the time of the full moon in November (of the Laotian calendar). This is at the end of the rice harvest, and the festival lasts anything from three to 45 days.
© Ramdas Iyer Photography