Asian Festival: Year of the Snake

Archival Material

For the latest on the Asian Festival, visit


SAN ANTONIO – In its 40-plus year history, the Institute of Texan Cultures has introduced Texas and San Antonio to cultures and communities that only recently arrived. Events such as the Asian Festival and Texas Folklife Festival have served to officially welcome and acknowledge cultural groups that have settled in Texas, and on Feb. 16, 2013, the Asian Festival will welcome the Sikh community.
When the Asian Festival began 26 years ago at the San Antonio Museum of Art, it was a watershed moment in the city’s cultural history. It was more than a Chinese New Year celebration. Representatives, organizations and families whose heritages spanned the Asian continent went to the festival to invite the citizens of their new home to celebrate with them.
The Asian Festival commemorated the Chinese New Year and recognized the area’s diverse Asian cultures, including Indian, Pakistani, Bangladeshi, Vietnamese, Thai, Laotian, Korean, Cambodian and Polynesian communities. San Antonio is now home to an estimated 250 Sikh families who are ready to meet their neighbors.
Sikhs are recognizable by the turbans they wear for both practical and religious reasons. According to San Antonio Sikh community member G.P. Singh, in the United States, a person wearing a turban, 90 percent of the time, will be a Sikh. The turban contains a Sikh’s hair, which is not cut, as it is viewed as a gift from God.
Understanding and appreciating diverse cultures is central to the mission of the Institute of Texan Cultures and in addition to the day’s celebrations, with food, music, dance, crafts and other diversions, representatives from the Sikh, Islamic and Hindu communities will present on their cultures and lifeways.
Jo Ann Andera, Director of Festivals and Events noted, "these are members of our community. San Antonio, Texas, the United States – this is their home. The Asian Festival is one way we can welcome these cultures and come to understand who they are. It is such a joy to be able to celebrate with them and participate in aspects of their daily lives."
The Asian Festival features music, dance, food, vendors, cooking demonstrations, martial arts demonstrations and other aspects of Asian Culture. The festival opens as the San Antonio Lion Dance Association leads a parade through the festival grounds, followed by representatives from the many participating cultures.
Guests can sample foods from Bangladesh, China, Japan, Thailand, Pakistan, India, and others, including the Bombay Salsa Company. In addition to food, music and lectures, guests can learn how to play Mahjong or observe the art of Kamishibai, a type of storytelling using puppets and real-time illustration. For children, H-E-B will sponsor a crafts tent with free activities and crafts. Other cultural presentations include cooking demonstrations from the St. Philip’s culinary studies department and the Pakistani group.
The 2013 Asian Festival is Saturday, February 16, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Institute of Texan Cultures. Adult admission is $8 advance, $10 at the gate. Child (6-12) admission is $5 at the gate or in advance. Children five and under are free. Group rates for parties of 20 or more are available, in advance only, at $6 per person. For more information on the Asian Festival, advance tickets, and the Institute of Texan Cultures, visit or call 210-458-2300.


©2014 Institute of Texan Cultures. University of Texas at San Antonio. All Rights Reserved.


Receive Texan Cultures E-Blast Updates

Official Institute of Texan Cultures Periodic Bulletin:

Enter your e-mail address to receive periodic information on announcements, news, events and event schedule changes.