Lamoni’s father has an inherited prejudice about the Nephites. He calls Ammon one of the “children of a liar.” This hatred of the Nephites should be understood in the context of the ritualized perception of the Lamanites by the Nephites that we saw in Enos (Enos 1:20, and commentary) and Mormon.
Cultural: The feast is first mentioned in Alma 18:9.
9 And they said unto him: Behold, he is feeding thy horses. Now the king had commanded his servants, previous to the time of the watering of their flocks, that they should prepare his horses and chariots, and conduct him forth to the land of Nephi; for there had been a great feast appointed at the land of Nephi, by the father of Lamoni, who was king over all the land.
Certainly Lamoni had some very good reasons for missing the feast, but this is not all there is to the story. There is insufficient information in this exchange to be certain, but it appears from the angry reaction of Lamoni’s father that the missed feast was a serious breach of etiquette. In later Classic Maya sites, there is glyphic evidence of a tradition if intersite visits of royalty, and particularly of the subordinate rulers to their overlords (see Linda Schele and Peter Matthews. “Royal Visits and other Intersite Relationships.” Classic Maya Political History. Cambridge University Press, 1991).
The summons to a feast may have been one such intersite visit that required the presence of the subordinate kings at the site of their overlord. In the type of political alliance that is evidenced among the Maya, these interchanges of visits could cement a relationship, or, in the breach, lead to war. Thus it might be seen as a significant declaration of independence if a subordinate king refused to come to the overlord’s feast. This may have been the very reason that Lamoni’s father was on the road toward the land of Ishmael. He may have wanted to determine the nature of the relationship of the two kingdoms.