festival Tag Archive

Food does not lie: Malaysia Festival 2016

Written by Editor’s Picks, Entertainment, Student Life

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Malaysians and various locals attended the annual Malaysia Festival at Tumbalong Park on September 4th this year. The Malaysia Festival is an annual cultural not-for-profit festival organized by Malaysian Student Committee of Sydney with the support of Ministry of Agriculture, Tourism Malaysia, and Education Malaysia. The organizing committee is made up of Malaysian students in universities all across Sydney and they affiliate with the Malaysian student associations in those universities. The Festival is a great way to connect with locals and educate them about the peninsula of Malaysia.

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Credit: Malaysia Festival Facebook page

It was a sunny day, merging into the beginning of spring. The park was filled with people, particularly in the food stalls. The Festival was larger this year but just as popular. The various stalls formed a U around the main stage with scores of people lining up, especially at the juice stands.

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The sugar cane thirst quencher

Some of the notable food stalls were Papparich and Mamak, both of which had never-ending visits by hungry Sydney-siders and Malaysians alike.

(Credit: Malaysia Festival Facebook page)

(Credit: Malaysia Festival Facebook page)

Some of the delicious food sold at the stalls at Malaysia Festival (Credit: Malaysia Festival Facebook page)

Besides food, there were some cultural stalls as well. The Ministry of Agriculture dedicated a booth for people to experience durian, the thorny and strong smelling fruit that’s become representative of Malaysia.

A cultural booth stood between food stalls. Inside, Malaysian student volunteers manned the booth with cultural games, cultural artefacts, traditional clothes, and traditional processions like a traditional Indian wedding.

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Harimau and Monyet, the Festival’s mascots wandered around the venue, taking photos with kids and adults alike. The atmosphere was jovial and carefree, with laughter and conversations buzzing all around.

Harimau posing with Malaysian students on the eve of the Festival (Credit: Malaysia Festival Facebook page)

All the while, there were various performances up on stage. There were performances by famous Malaysian artists, instrumental performances, cultural performances, and contests. Young children from the MAAN Malay school performed dikir barat, which is a traditional musical form popular in the state of Kelantan. Malaysian students from Sydney universities also performed the bamboo dance, which is traditional in Sabah.

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The MAAN Malay school performing a medley of famous dikir barat songs for the attentive crowd

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Malaysian students performing the bamboo dance, a traditional dance from Sabah

The notable and much-awaited performer was by Amy Search, a famous Malaysian rockstar. But before the legend, an equally amazing artist took the stage: Cassidy Anderson (a.k.a. CassidyBoleh). She’s an Australian singer who makes Malay covers of various songs. She first rose to fame through her Malay rendition of Let It Go by Idina Menzel. Cassidy was super popular with the crowd, with young and older men gifting her flowers (and one even gave her satay, now that’s #goals).

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The only way to profess your love is through food

Visitors didn’t some coming until the very end of the Festival. Every year, the reception has been positive and just as festive as the last year. MFest will be back next year, so don’t forget to check out their Facebook page or website to receive updates! Hope to see you next year to enjoy the delicacies that Malaysia offers.

If you would like to see the goings-on at MFest this year, check out this video montage by Cassidy. (You’ll also get to see her receive the satay mini-bouquet at 5:56.)

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Diwali: Festival of Lights

Written by Entertainment, Student Life

This year on Diwali, I really felt good when my Facebook page was full of Diwali greetings. Besides those from my near and dear ones, I also received Diwali greetings from ANZ Bank and St. George Bank. Even my local Coles supermarket had a special section for Diwali. The sails of beautiful Opera House lit up in golden orange on the 12th of November, 2015 to mark the Hindu festival of lights celebrated by Hindu community across the globe. I was happy and emotional for this wide acceptance of one of the major festival of Hindus. I felt less homesick this year in festive season. But, at the same time I thought how many are actually aware about Diwali. So, I decided to throw a light on this Festival of Lights.971385_4877091412116_2054161172_n

Origin and significance
Diwali is derived from Sanskrit word “Deepavali” meaning ‘chain’ or ‘series of lights’. It is an ancient festival that has been celebrated for centuries. It is known by different names in different regions of India but Diwali or Deepavali is most common. The festival is celebrated by Hindus, Sikhs Jains and some Buddhists to mark different historical events or myths. However, irrespective of the different ways it is celebrated across different cultures, regions and religions, it symbolises victory of good over evil.

5 Days of Diwali

Diwali is a 5 day festival with first day as “Dhan Teras” concluding with “Bhai Dooj” on the fifth day. It is celebrated every year in the months of October or November depending upon dates suggested by the Hindu calendar. However, the preparations for the festival begin almost a month in advance. People clean and even renovate their houses. The shopping begins almost a month before. People buy gifts for their nearest and dearest and visit each other. In India, the festival of Diwali is not less than a shopping festival. It is a peak buying season for gold and jewellery in India. Everything is decorated from streets to roads to houses. Let’s have a look at the five days of Diwali:

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Day 1: Dhanteras or Dhanlakshmi Puja

Dhan means wealth, teras represents 13th (13th lunar day before new moon)and puja means worship.This day marks the beginning of five day festival. On this day people customarily buy gold, silver or even utensils or anything precious. It is a major shopping day. This day marks the birth of Goddess Lakshmi (goddess of wealth). It is believed that purchasing precious items on this day will bring prosperity and wealth.

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Day 2: Naraka Chaturdashi or Choti Diwali

Naraka means Hell; Choti means small and Chaudas means 14th (14th lunar day before new moon). On this day, people clean their houses thoroughly and finally a day before festival. The day is celebrated to get rid of laziness and evil in our life. People light earthen lamps called diyas on the night.

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Day 3: Diwali and Lakshmi-Puja
The third and most important day of entire festival. On this day, people decorate their houses. Rangoli, a beautiful and colourful pattern, is drawn near main entrance of houses using materials such as coloured sand, dry flour, flower petals or coloured rice. Rangoli is said to be associated with bringing good luck. People also decorate their houses with colourful electrical lights. The entrance usually carries signage of “Happy Diwali” or “Shubh Deepavali”; Shubh meaning auspicious.

The day falls on darkest night with no visible moon and is dedicated to Goddess Lakshmi: Goddess of wealth and prosperity. In the evening, people worship goddess Lakshmi who is believed to remain on earth the night of Diwali. The puja is followed by lighting of candles and diyas and fireworks. Preceding people of the house gather to enjoy a family feast and enjoy mithai (traditional sweets and desserts). The doors and windows are usually left open that nighti in order to welcome goddess Lakshmi.

4Day 4: Gowardhan Puja or Annakoot or Padwa
Govardhan is a small hillock near Mathura in India. It is believed on this day , with the help of Govardhan mountain Lord Krishna saved people from drowning. Also, called as “annakoot” meaning ‘Mountain of food’, exactly 56 types of food, commonly known as “Chhapanbhog” or 108 different types of food, are offered to Lord Krishna. In south India , it is believed that King Bali comes on earth for this one day to rule as per boon given by Lord Vishnu.

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Day 5: Bhai Dooj
The fifth and last day of 5 days long festival is called Bhai dooj where bhai means bother and dooj represents second day after the new moon. As per legends, it is believed that if a sister puts tilak on her brother’s forehead on this day, it will protect the brother from harms and evils. The festival is celebrated to strengthen the love between brothers and sisters. Brothers and sisters give gifts to each other.

International acceptance
Diwali is official holiday in India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Singapore and Fiji. Nowadays, Diwali is widely observed and celebrated in many parts of the world.

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A final enlightenment

Diwali has many regional and cultural variations and it will be hard to explain it in such a short article. There are many legends associated with it which are interesting as well as guiding and enlightening. I hope that by the next year more and more of my friends are aware of it and celebrate it with me. I pray for all to have a life full of colours, lights, joy, wealth and prosperity. Once again belated Happy Diwali 2015, and Happy Diwali 2016 in advance!

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