I'm of Hmong decent and everytime I go to a chicken swap meet, auction or show, I get asked the question, "Do you kill chickens for ritual sacrifices." So here is the truth about chickens in my religion and culture. YES, we do kill chickens for ritual sacrifices, but in a good way. Some rituals held just need a chicken, but not killed. Chickens are not the only animals being sacrificed. Pigs, cows, goats, and very very rarely dogs. The chicken is one important animal in our culture, highly revered. There is a ritual called "Hu Plig" (hu-plee) which means Calling of the Lost Soul. This ritual is done when a person is ill or not being themselves. We believe that when your soul wanders away from your body, is lost, or kidnapped by evil spirits you get sick and modern medicines don't really work. A shaman or a wise elder of the family will take a pair of chickens, a roo and a hen, with an egg placed untop of a bowl filled with rice and incense litted and stand it next to the egg. The shaman or wise elder will stand in front of the front door with a circular cymbal, a set of split baffalo horns and "call the lost soul of the ill" back home. The chickens part in this ritual is to "help find and chase the soul back home." The chickens will be slaughtered, but before it is slaughtered, the shaman or wise elder will use the incense and ask of the chickens help. This is what he/she will say to the chicken. "Oh greatful brave chicken, we do not crave for your lucious meat, nor do we crave for your richful broth. We are asking for your help, to help us find a soul, to help protect us from evil. For after the great duties you accomplish, we will never forget and we thank you for your courage." Then the chickens are slaughtered and cooked. After the chicken is cooked, the feet and head are examined. By the way the feet curls and the skull of the head is shaped, it will tell the shaman or the wise elder that it has accomplished it's job, give warning signs to the ill of what he/she shall not go or do, or warnings of death in the family, marriage in the family, or a major dispute. Every chicken sacrificed is believed to reincarnate and go to heaven. Another ritual is called the "Fiv Yeem" (fee yeng) It is the calling of the gods, the universe and the land to help and protect. For instance if a person is involved in an car accident are doctors say he might not make it or if a person is lost and not found, a shaman will be called over. The shaman will call to all gods, universe and land to help and protect the person and a chicken will be sacrificed to them if the person makes it from the accident or is found. If later on the the family recieves the same bad news or not found, they will offer a bigger animal, now up to a pig. Then so forth to a cow, and then a goat. The goat is THE MOST POWERFUL animal in our culture. If the person is not making it from the accident or not found after the offering of a goat, everything is stopped. But if things show better signs, whatever you offered, you must sacrifice. Usually an offering of a chicken makes things work out, but sometimes it goes all the way to a cow, rarely to a goat. One other ritual where the chicken is NOT KILLED is the new year celebration. The chicken swung around a whole village of people during the new year to protect everyone from evil spirits, evil mishaps, everything from bad luck to divorces. The chicken is HIGHLY a brave animal in our culture. Another ritual is during a wedding where the groom takes the bride home for the first time, a chicken is swept outwards of the couple to take away evil spirits and mishaps that can ruin the marriage. Then the chicken is swept inward to bring good luck to ther marriage, fortune, and children. The chicken is not killed here. The chicken plays an important part in our culture. There is a story on our culture of the chicken. It is said that long ago we had 9 moon and 9 suns. The land was dried up it was always hot. The night was bright and no one got any sleep. The Hmong then took thier best crossbow archers and shot the moons and suns down. They shot and shot until one moon and one sun was left. The moon and sun got really spooky and afraid of the Hmong that they hid away far far way from the Hmong. Later on the Hmong had realized of thier great mistake. They would beg, cry, sing and play music for the moon and sun to come back. But they did not. Then the rooster came along and said that he can convince the moon and sun to come out if the Hmong was able to find the great golden comb for the rooster to wear, which is located in a deep dark cave full of dragons and beast. The Hmong gathered all of the best and bravest men to go get the golden comb. They went in for 40 days and 40 nights and fought dragons and beast until they got the golden comb. They brought back the comb to the rooster and with a smile on its face it slapped on the golden comb on its head. Then as the rooster promised to the Hmong, he crowed 3 times and the sun and moon got curious and came out to see what the noise was all about. The rooster then told the sun and the moon, "Sun and Moon, I am the king of the Morning for you can see the golden crown on my head. My servants have humilated and tormented you, for now they shall take punishment. You shall not be afraid as if they shall redo what they've done wrong, I will no more call for you. Shall every morning they will be punished by my ear piercing crow and wake up early and bright to begin thier labors. Be not afraid!" From that day on, the sun will come up for the call of the rooster's crow and humans will always get an earful everymorning.