The best way for one to become educated about the world around is to experience the world first hand, to see the different cultures and lifestyles up close. With a diverse population existing in Monash, our university is a melting pot of different cultures, each one unique in its own aspect. What differentiates one societal group from another, includes beliefs, behaviour, language, traditions, food, religion and politics. Monash Cultural Week made it possible for Monash-ians to catch a glimpse of the ‘way of life’ of international students. Booths were decorated with flags, tables were filled with home country delicacies and students were proudly dressed in their traditional attires.
Across the 2 days event, it featured the Indonesian, Chinese, Nepali-Indian, Sri Lankan, African, Arabic, Maldivians, Commonwealth of Independent States and the Bangladeshi communities. The savoury aroma of delicacies made me drool. Mouth-watering kebabs from Pakistan left me wanting for more. The Indonesian community had prepared various flavours of the infamous Indo Mee (best meal for broke Uni students). Next to them, were the Chinese community who served up a delicious cup of Hai Di Lao Hot Pot, originated from the Sichuan Province. (Fun Fact: haidilao is a term from mah-jong that literally meant fortune). Students were also privileged to create an aesthetically pleasing piece of writing using a ‘paint’ brush and ink – Chinese Calligraphy. There were also dance workshops be the Sri Lankan and Arabic communities for those who were keen on learning their traditional dance form. The Maldivians had beautiful shells that were collected from the stunning beaches (a place for the bucket-list). Not forgetting the African community who had exotic jewelleries and a braiding workshop that had students excited. You would never believe how many students I saw the next day with braided hair.
The Bangladesh booth was filled with colourful embroidered quilts called ‘Nakshi Katha’. The ‘Nakshi Katha’ displayed were all handmade and used for multiple purpose. The Bangladeshi community later performed a piece with the harmonium (aka reed organ). Harmonium is an instrument with elaborate craving and inlays, and at times used as decorative pieces (to my surprise I actually own one hidden deep inside the store room). One of the busiest booth was owned by the Nepali-Indian community, there was an endless queue of students under the scorching hot sun waiting to get their Mehndi (Henna) – traditionally used in wedding ceremonies, today it’s a famous form of body art. Water in bread, yes, water in bread! Pani Puri (pani is water and puri is bread, literally water in bread), is one of India’s famous street food (tried it after ages of watching it in movies). It tasted like an edible paper-thin balloon of complex sweet, sour and savoury fluids that explode in your mouth, overwhelming your taste buds.
The event was fun-filled and stomach-filling too. The international communities had the opportunity to showcase their proud heritage and Monash-ians had the opportunity to embrace the culture of other communities. By trying different types of delicacies, we learn to respect others’ country (not like MasterChef UK). The better understanding between communities will only bring Monash-ians closer as a tight knit family. Cheers to more events involving international delicacies!
Article by Divyah
Photos by Derrick Ser and Daniel Sim