A Persian night in old Siam

Thailand May 15, 2013 00:00

By Phoowadon Duangmee
The Nation

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Ayutthaya plays host to the upcoming festival 'From Persia to Thailand'


Ayutthaya, Siam’s former capital, opts for all things Persian this week, showcasing cultural shows and display of Iranian art and handicrafts, as part of the “From Persia to Thailand” festival.
The event, which runs from Friday through Monday, celebrates the sibling love between Ayutthaya and Qum, an ancient town of Iran. The former Siam capital and Iranian’s ancient town signed an agreement to become sister cities in February.
Tucked away in Tehran’s southwest, Qum or Ghom is counted as a holy city by Shi’a Islam. The city is the largest centre for Shi’a scholarships in the world, and is a significant pilgrimage destination.
The two old cities – Ayutthaya and Qum – might be 8,000 kilometres apart, but they have been bridged for more than 400 years through a trade route. In 1602. Sheikh Ahmad Qumi and his brother, both Shia Muslims from Qum, settled down in Ayutthaya to conduct trade. 
Over the years, the Persian people expanded their community and increased their roles in trade. Some of them became high-ranking court officials; others went on to become the governors of major cities.
To mark the long-standing relationship between the two cities, Ayutthaya province and Cultural Centre of the Embassy of the Islam Republic of Iran in Bangkok are organising a wealth of festive events over the four days at the National Art Centre (Old City Hall of Ayutthaya).
Qum and Ayutthaya will be reconnected through a series of unique cultural shows and performance of two nations. Among the highlights are a showcase and demonstration of carpet weaving, wood and rock carving and Iranian-style painting. On the Thai side, there’ll be graceful dancing and skills in iron smithing, sword fighting and Thai boxing. 
Visitors can also enjoy a sound, and multimedia show entitled “From Persia to Thailand,” demonstrations and admire or buy renowned art and craft products and souvenirs directly imported from Qum such as carpets, glassware, ceramics, ornaments, miniature paintings, and desserts.
Stamps with the portrait of Sheikh Ahmad Qumi will also be on display as a symbol of the strong relationship between the Iranian and the Thai people as well as the sisterly relationship between Qum and Ayutthaya.
Foodies will love this event, as a fragrant mix of cardamom, rose petals, milk and nuts, coriander and anise spice up Ayutthaya's air. 
The cultural event “From Persia to Thailand” takes place at National Art Gallery Friday to Monday from 4pm to 9pm. Ayutthaya is about two hours drive to Bangkok’s north.