Nisei Festival

Each August, LA’s historic Little Tokyo hosts the Nisei Festival, which I got to attend for the first time this year. The annual festival includes, among other things, a pageant and parade, Japanese art and culture exhibits, food vendors, and music performances, including a taiko drum festival.  

Read More
Amirah
Nowruz Iranian New Year Festival

I’ve never had the opportunity to experience Iranian culture before, so I was very excited to celebrate Nowruz, the Iranian New Year, for the first time this year. Since there is a large Iranian population in Southern California, there were two festivals to honor the holiday: one at UCLA in Los Angeles and the other at UCI in Irvine. Both events were presented by the Farhang Foundation, a nonreligious, nonpolitical, and nonprofit foundation that is dedicated to celebrating Iranian art and culture for the benefit of society. I admire how inclusive and well organized the Farhang Foundation is in promoting Iranian culture and that it does so without a religious or political agenda.

Read More
AmirahComment
Jubilee Arts Festival

I recently had the honor of performing at the Jubilee Arts Festival, a two-day event held at the Pasadena Convention Center. The festival is an international program that features the Jamat’s global artistic talents and expressions, highlighting the cultural diversity of the Ismaili community around the world. The festival not only showcased a variety of talent in dance, filmmaking, literary arts, musical performance, visual arts, poetry, graphic design, and more, it also offered chances for festival attendees and artists to engage with one another in activities through workshops and interactive sessions. 

Read More
AmirahComment
The Silk Road Unity Festival

In late April I attended The Silk Road Unity Festival in Anaheim. Hosted by Muckenthaler Cultural Center and held at the Brookhurst Community Center and Park, the festival’s name is a reference to the Silk Road, an ancient trade route that stretched halfway across the world, connecting the East and West in trade. All the beautiful traditional costumes and vibrant textiles everywhere were absolutely mesmerizing, and I admired how the festival not only set out to educate but also to celebrate all the diverse cultures, nations, arts, regional cuisines, and faiths along the ancient trade route, with countries such as Turkey, Syria, Japan, and China represented. 

Read More
AmirahComment
Japan House

I was primarily at the Japan House for an exhibition called Anrealage: A Light Un Light (January 1, 2018 – March 21, 2018). The inaugural exhibition presented works from the fashion label ANREALAGE and next-generation designer Kunihiko Morinaga. The show featured designs on the theme of light, showing us new and inventive ways of seeing light and how it relates or reacts to photosensitive fabrics. These forward-thinking, experimental creations force us to change how we see, wear, and think about the clothing of the future. I find the concept of taking everyday lifestyle products and injecting them with technology and innovation incredibly compelling and surely the way of the future. 

Read More
AmirahComment
Brunch at Sam Tan's Kitchen

Brunch is hands down my favorite meal of the day, so when I heard about Sam Tan’s Kitchen Malaysian pop-up brunch, it was a no-brainer that I would attend. The woman behind Sam Tan’s Kitchen is Samantha Tan, who is an actress by day and a chef by night. Originally from Malaysia but based now in Los Angeles, Samantha is self-taught, specializing in her cherished Malaysian cuisine with which she grew up. I also want to mention that Samantha was recently profiled on Feastly’s #GirlsWithKnives blog, an honor for sure.

Read More
AmirahComment
Shaolin Festival

A fun family affair, the park was awash with bright, colorful banners and large, beautiful photographs of Shaolin temples and culture. There were Buddhist statues, sanctuaries, a meditation booth, a Shaolin temple booth, and artwork kiosks. Mixing with the festivalgoers were Shaolin masters in their traditional clothing, lending the event an air of East meets West, past meets present. The message was clear: Just because we move to a new land, it doesn’t mean we have to leave our native culture behind. We are encouraged to honour our past while embracing our future. We can appreciate our values and traditions and still value our modern lifestyle.

Read More
AmirahComment
Wong Java House

Recently at one of my gamelan rehearsals at the Indonesian consulate in Los Angeles, I asked around for recommendations on where to find some good, authentic Indonesian food. Interestingly enough, the response was unanimous: Wong Java House. After such a ringing endorsement, I knew I had to go.

Read More
AmirahComment
Indonesian Cuisine

The dinner was prepared by Chef Wongso, the recipient of the 2017 Gourmand Award for World's Best Cookbook. He shared with us that, in a way, there was no such thing as Indonesian cuisine because of the nation’s sheer amount of cultural diversity. I loved that statement. The food is as varied as its people, the cuisine like night and day from one culture to the next. 

Read More
AmirahComment
Rumi Night

I have always been inspired by the poet Rumi. I am deeply moved by his universal message of unity and the yearning he injects into his poetry. I found out about "Rumi Night" from my friend Yelena and was excited to be able to attend this monthly event, as I had been looking for opportunities to learn more about Rumi's poetry. The event was held at the Flame International Restaurant, in an upstairs hall called the “Flame International Cultural Center.” It was a lovely, intimate setting, and not a fan of crowds, I found it the perfect venue for a poetry reading.

Read More
AmirahComment
The Art and Craft of Shadow Theatre

MaRia describes Wayang Kulit, an ancient tradition that started in Asia over a thousand years ago, as the “epitome of multicultural art.” Not only do I admire MaRia’s passion, commitment, and dedication for learning and then teaching Balinese Wayang Kulit, but I’m also fascinated by the fact that she is the first American female dalang (puppeteer), which is extremely rare because dalangs are traditionally male. I was very curious to know more about MaRia’s experience learning to be a dalang in Indonesia as a white, female American. I was also interested to see how she would incorporate modern Western puppets and stories into a Wayang Kulit performance to make it more exciting and relatable to American audiences.

Read More
AmirahComment