Monash Cultural Night (MCN) was held on the 9th of October at the 4 points by Sheraton Puchong. It was the first ever MCN night after the Pandemic so expectations weren’t necessarily low. The dress code was Traditional wear/Formal wear so most students were highly encouraged to express their culture through their outfits. The event hall was filled with colours, people were absolutely feeling the vibe. The lovely representatives from MUISS invited me in. I asked one of them, Michelle, the inspiration behind her outfit. She told me she wore a traditional Batik which was handed down from her mother. The thing I love about cultural events like this is that we all come closer as a community and bond over our cultural and familial ties with food and our outfits. Moving onto the event itself, after a short introduction from the current MUISS Heads Rashwan and Kayla the first performance began.
The first performance was a heartfelt song from Korea to ease the audience into the night. After that, with a complete change of pace the Hip-Hop dance group from Korea came and gave the audience Korean swagger and from the audience’s reactions it sure was stunning! The next country was Pakistan, this performance was unlike any other as they took us to a journey through the different states of Pakistan and what each region brings to the table literally too with their food and cultural differences. The city of Peshawar stood out to me the most, a city built upon ancient legacies and monuments; how cool is that?! But that was not the only thing Pakistan had to show, they ended their showcase with a bombastic group dance which took the audience through various Pakistani music genres. The next country to show their colours was Mauritius, and oh boy were their colours vibrant! The stage was covered with fiery colours of red and pink and straw top hats of course.
After Mauritius’s refreshing performance, Sri-Lanka also known as the Pearl of the Ocean debuted their performance showcasing their culture through traditional dance, a whimsical piano piece that guided us through the countryside and beaches of Sri-Lanka and a riveting spoken poetry session, truly a diverse array of showcases from Sri-Lanka. Next up was Malaysia, although it was a short performance it was by far one of the more memorable ones as the performances showcased a traditional dance which showed the unrelenting and indomitable malay spirit woman singing in Malay as a Male interpretive dancer moved with her vocal rhythms.
Moving on, the Middle East showed the audience the several countries that fell under its umbrellas through powerful traditional dance which got the people of the middle east to where they are now. My favourite was from Jerusalem’s performance which showed an energetic dance expressing the open hearts of the people of Jerusalem. China came next, with a powerful song about Maternal love which got the audience bringing out their flashlights and swooning over themselves with the song, definitely the most wholesome moment of the night. Now, Probably the biggest showcase of the night was India. They showcased the theme of love, not just any love though. It was Royal love, through this theme India took us through a journey of how Indian Weddings celebrate two people’s love, each performance was bigger than the next and the audience felt it. I definitely saw some people scream and dance with the dance group on some of the tables.
The second last performance was from Bangladesh which also showcased the theme of love. But this was young love, Bangladesh took the audience through a story of two lovers who were classes apart but that didn’t stop them, breaking many societal norms to be together, that is the Bangladeshi spirit that made me proud to be from Bangladeshi and this performance definitely won my heart! The last performance was from Indonesia but it was definitely not the least, it retold a popular Indonesian story called “Bawang Putih Bawang Merah” through a musical drama. During one of the climax scenes the main character loses her father and the narrator( who was live on stage) sang a mournful ode called “Bahagia Menanti’ by Radhini, a song about loneliness and darkness but also with a possibility of hope.. For the future.
Award Ceremony and Ending notes
After the Performances the bulk of the event came to a close, but the night was still young and the audience was still left wanting more. After Rashwan and Kayla’s ending speech where they talk about the importance of MCN and diversity in general. After that, a fashion show was held which showcased how drippy each culture truly CAN be. Malaysia gave us FIERCE, Japan gave us ELEGANCE and India gave us gorgeous ROYALTY and the people were eating it up, I had to stand on a chair to get a better view with the large cluster of people hounding the sides of the runway!
The award ceremony was held soon after where the true royalty ascended to the throne of MCN night. The king and queen of the night were both from Indonesia and their lovely Prince and Princess were Pakistan and India respectively. From the performance aspect, the winner was India deservedly. The runner up performance was Pakistan and the most creative one was Bangladesh, South Asians for the win!
After the event, I reached out to Kanak, the CRO of the event to gain insight on how everyone collaborated for this event and the challenges they faced along the way. “Definitely not easy, especially considering that our predecessors themselves didn’t have much idea about conducting mcn offline was definitely difficult to start with. We started from absolute scratch and started planning in the first sem of the year itself. As it comes with a big scale event, many people were involved and everyone had genius ideas but was hard to execute because of several reasons. But we definitely had to make sacrifices, get everyone on board for it. Towards the, personally i didn’t expect to be sold out but we did!! It was really great cause MCN was like MUISS’s baby.” Thank you Kanak for helping me finish this article, certainly looking for how next year MUISS events will be like!
Written by Fasihul Alam
Photos by Tsheten Yang and Yang Thong Chen