Dawning of the ‘Day of the Lotus’

Times Staff Writer

After a 3-year hiatus, the 12th “Day of the Lotus” festival returns to Echo Park Lake this weekend, representing 16 Asian-Pacific Island cultures and aimed at promoting intercultural understanding.

For the first time, the festival will feature a flower exhibition on the park’s 25,000-square-foot island, in addition to the arts, music, dance programs, dragon boat races, sport competitions, food and community service booths.

The two-day festival runs today and Sunday at the north end of the park between Glendale and Park boulevards, sponsored by the city of Los Angeles and Pepsi-Cola West.

Dragon boat races will begin at noon both days, preceded by the blessing and “opening” of the dragon’s eyes--to ensure safe and successful races--by the Rev. Karuna Dharma, abbess of the International Buddhist Meditation Center.


Twenty entries are expected in the races, including teams from Asian and Pacific community organizations, the Los Angeles Police Department and local media, including 1986 winners from KCBS-TV.

After a traditional Chinese lion dance, a kung-fu demonstration and Thai classical dancers performing at noon, official opening ceremonies begin at 2 p.m. today with the singing of patriotic Samoan songs and the uncovering of a Samoan umi in which a pig has roasted since Friday night.

Music and dance by Asian and Polynesian groups will continue today until 9 p.m. and Sunday from noon to 8 p.m.

On Echo Park Island, dozens of floral designers, growers, suppliers, botanical specialists and members of flower societies will present lectures, demonstrations and displays with the underlying theme of Asian-Pacific cultural understanding.


“The general public might get the impression that this is just a flower show, but . . . it’s more than that,” said co-chairman Dennis J. Wollen. “The emphasis is to show how flowers are used in different cultures, rather than to simply display how they are arranged or hold ‘how to’ talks to show how they’re grown.”

Live lotus flowers symbolizing purity, cleanliness and creativity are in bloom in a corner of Echo Park Lake and hundreds of peach-colored silk lotuses, imported from China, will be displayed in arrangements adorning the bridge leading to the island. Designed by Mike Hashimoto and Sets Umeda, the 3-foot-high arrangements will be lit at night and incorporate dried lotus pods, lotus leaves, pussy willow and gold fans.

Other flowers and greenery donated by wholesale florists from the Los Angeles Flower Market, including orchids, ginger, lilies, tea flowers and bird of paradise (the official flower of the city of Los Angeles), will adorn exhibitors booths.

In honor of the Recreation and Parks Department’s 100th anniversary, the TreePeople of Beverly Hills will plant a tree and inaugurate a series of floral and plant lectures and demonstrations today in a gazebo constructed on the island. TreePeople president Andy Lipkus will discuss reforestation and the care and importance of trees today at 12:30 and 2 p.m. and Sunday at 1 p.m.

A small lotus pond and fountain, with lilies as tiny as an inch in diameter, will be installed on the island, and Bill O’Keefe of O’Keefe Water Gardens will lecture on “The Mystery of the Lotus” both days at 3 p.m.

Other lectures will include talks on bonsai by Ted E. Matson of the Descanso Bonsai Society, today and Sunday at 4 p.m.; on orchids by Wellington Paul of the Southern California Orchid Society at 5 p.m. Saturday, and on ikebana, the oldest known form of flower arranging, today and Sunday at 6 and 7 p.m. by four members of Kado Kyoju Kai-Ikebana Teacher’s Guild, founded in Los Angeles in 1938.

In addition to displays by the six lecture/demonstration groups, 26 exhibitor tents will feature displays by international award-winning designer Osamu Honjo; San Lorenzo Nurseries, one of the largest wholesale florists in the state, and the Exotic Seed Co. and Rare Fruit Trees of Vista, exhibiting tropical fruit and rare Asian trees such as the white Chinese peach trees. Daisy and James Lee of the Chinese Knot Promotion Center in West Covina will design a lotus and give knot-tying demonstrations on the island, and other artisans will be represented adjacent the stage area.

A juried art exhibition of works by junior and senior high school students along the “Day of the Lotus” theme will include drawings, paintings, photography and prints.


More information and a complete schedule of performances is available by calling (213) 485-5548 or (213) 485-4825.