In the Hmong culture, the funeral ceremony is a special and important ceremony for the Hmong. The funeral starts at the deceased person’s home where they prepare for the ceremony and invite all of the relatives to come to the funeral. That usually takes about one week to prepare. The ceremony usually lasts about 3 days unless you have enough money to do a longer funeral ceremony. The funeral ceremony is to help and “make a safe passage for the soul to reach its ancestors” (Kue). The deceased person’s soul returns back the way they came from; all the way to the place where that person was born. The soul goes back to retrieve the placenta that was buried back at that person’s first home.
There are about ten different jobs that are usually performed at the funeral. These positions are very important to the funeral procedure and also make up the whole of the funeral. Some of the jobs include: four txiv qeej, four niam ua mov or cooks, four txiv ua nqaij or the meat cookers, the Taw Kev or Path Guider who help the deceased go to heaven, and the Cuab Tsav who is the group leader of the deceased family who is in charge of the funeral services. Some of the jobs will take a longer time to finish while there are some that are very quick and easy. The order that the procedures are performed plays an important role in the ritual. If it is in the wrong order, the ritual would be incomplete.
The deceased person has to wear traditional clothing when they died. It is said that these clothes are supposed to be made with cloth and decomposable materials but nowadays, a person can request to where whatever they like; it does not have to be traditional clothing.
A main instrument in the Hmong culture is called, Qeej or mouth organ. There are four people playing this at the funeral, but there is a main txiv qeej person who plays the special songs. In the funeral there is the Qeej and the drums or ntuas. The drums are specially constructed right before the funeral starts and has to be destroyed right after the funeral ends. The Qeej plays one of the most important roles in a funeral. The people who play the Qeej is called the Txiv Qeej, who” play a song to awaken all the good spirits and have them restored”, “play a song (zaj qeej tu siav) that tells about the decedent’s last breath on Earth and that the decedent has gone to meet his/her ancestors in Heaven”, and “play…to send the decedent’s soul to meet his/her ancestors in Heaven.” (Vang).
The funeral is also where the family makes many sacrifices and helps the deceased person to not struggle by providing the deceased person with things to help them find their ancestors. The common sacrifices are cows, buffalos, pigs and chickens. The sacrificed animal is to become the dead person’s companion when they get to the other world. The chicken or rooster helps guide the deceased to their right ancestors when they meet each other because both the deceased person’s chicken and the ancestor’s chicken would cry to each other. The deceased person’s spirit “takes their placenta, gifts, food, money and a crossbow for protection as they set off to find the ancestors. … The food is to eat, and the money to pass gates” (Thao). The money is made of special paper that is folded into boats for the deceased so that they will have wealth in the next world. Those items are to help aid the deceased person to have a safe journey.