Thuc Doan Nguyen led an effort to bring more Vietnamese culture to Carnival in New Orleans. Members of the Krewe of Mung Beans joined the Krewe of Dead Beans parade from Bayou St. John to Treme on Lundi Gras on Monday, 20th of January.
The group made typical throws, costumes, and decorations that reflected their culture, such as chopsticks, magnets, and fans that said “Year of the Cat,” because while several Asian countries celebrated Year of the Rabbit, Vietnam celebrated Year of the Cat.
They wore costumes primarily yellow and red, the colors of the Vietnamese flag, and made throws that reflected Vietnamese history, such as the Trung Sisters, who were celebrated in Vietnamese history and lore. Nguyen made a costume with mung beans, soybeans, and red beans, and dragon whistles and bracelets.
Nguyen was born in Vietnam and moved to North Carolina as a refugee and later moved to New Orleans to pursue artistic opportunities, where she met Devin De Wulf, the founder of the Krewe of Red Beans, who welcomed her into the Krewe.
The Krewe of Red Beans was founded in 2009 and was known for its members wearing or incorporating red beans into their costumes and marching on Lundi Gras. In 2020, the krewe added two additional parades – Feijao, inspired by Brazilian culture and Carnival traditions, and Green Beans, which was more environmentally focused.
During the pandemic, the Krewe initiated several relief efforts and developed a hub for Carnival and cultural groups in New Orleans called Beanlandia.
Nguyen explained that they had been going to Beanlandia to make costumes and throws in honor of their dead. She noted that Vietnamese culture was steeped in ghost stories and that there were crossovers with ancestor worship and Voodoo. She believed that Vietnamese culture made these activities well-suited for honoring the dead.