Thai Cultural Day happened last Sunday at Barnsdall Art Park in L.A. If you've never been, please try it next year. It's a photographer's paradise. And a chance to go to Thailand without a passport. Very warm, friendly, beautiful people! All photos here are by Marlan Warren, copyright protected.
When I asked a Thai American friend who does not live near L.A's Thai Town if he plans to go to the 22nd Annual Thai Cultural Day at Barnsdall Art Park on Sun., Sep. 21, he said, "Sounds interesting, I could maybe take my son. He doesn't know much about Thai culture."
When I showed the poster to my Thai neighbor who could not read the English, my attempts to explain failed. She seemed to get that it had something to do with Thailand, but she looked relieved when our conversation ended.
In fact, Thai Cultural Day is a cross-cultural event that welcomes anyone who would like to participate. Thai Town resident and businessman, Carl Percival--a London-born American is one of the many Angelenos who volunteer year after year. "I visited Thailand years ago," Percival said. "And I fell in love with the art." Percival moved to Thai Town to reap the benefits of Thai culture without a passport. "The people are warm and friendly...the food is terrific...and the art is just beautiful."
Carl Percival with the banner he made for 2014
Percival, who only gives his age as "you wouldn't believe it," is one of the festival's most enthusiastic promoters and organizers, as well as its Chief Decorator. Here are some photos of his meticulous craftsmanship featured at past festivals. They will be on display once again for all to enjoy.
The front entrance of Barnsdall Art Park (a multi-arts facility public park donated to L.A. by the Barnsdall family) is quite nice, but it doesn't usually look like this:
No Thai Cultural Day would be complete without a Spirit House, and Percival enjoys building them.
The origins of the spirit house are older than the Buddhist religion practiced in Thailand. They originate from the practice of animism, which is the very ancient belief that spirits, or souls, reside not only in humans, but in animals, plants, mountains, rivers and other inanimate objects. Thai people believe that the spirit of the land must be appeased through offerings made to the spirits who reside in the spirit house.
If all you know about Thailand, you learned from watching The King and I or getting a Thai massage, or ordering delicious curries off a menu, then you are in for a multi-layered treat. Thai Cultural Day is not restricted in any way. People of all walks of life, cultures and religions are welcome.
"It's a free fun-time day on the grassy hill that was given to the citizens of Los Angeles by the Barnsdall family," said Percival.
The activities are listed below. Some take place outside in booths and on a stage. Others will happen inside the Barnsdall (200+ seat) Theater.
Before the family and artistic events begin, there is an "Food and Alms Offering Ceremony" for Thai Buddhist monks who arrive at 8 a.m. and offer a gratitude prayer. Donations are not required. And just as you don't have to be Jewish to love Kosher rye bread, you don't have to be Buddhist to come to the ceremony.
And last, but certainly not at all least, Thai carvings from Carl Percival's Thai Wood Carving Collection will be exhibited. Here's a couple of samples of what you'll see:
LEFT: An intricate teak carving of the face of Buddha surrounded by teak candleholders, some eggs of different Thai hard woods and teak flowers.
RIGHT: Top - a buffalo neck adornment, teak buffalo neck bell and a teak window. Middle - a large teak tray for making sticky rice, a teak celestial dancer, and a teak gold panning dish. Front - some Teak roof decorations and a Teak Tray.
More will be revealed in this year's festival program where you will find an entertaining article by Percival. So come on down and get cultured the Thai way!