It’s a miserable grey rainy day in Toronto so I was thankful to be invited to the 2014 Malaysian Bazaar, a colourful (and tasty) event hosted by MASAT (Malaysian Student Association of University of Toronto) which aims to promote the Malaysian multi-cultural society at U of T and bring Malaysian students together and help foster ties among one another. Co-organizer Jonathan Lee (below right) told me “MASAT also aims to foster intercultural exchange among students, as noted by our many members having dual memberships in both MASAT and the Singaporean student association, MSSA. That’s the formal side of MASAT but informally, we are a home away from home for members. We help organize early accommodation if needed for Malaysian students when they first arrive in Toronto and also help them adapt to the new environment.”
Co-organizer, Kelvin Benignus (above left) notes that the other focus of this Malaysian Bazaar is to promote Malaysia through its food and culture. “We’ve carefully selected an array of food and delicacies that showcase a wide diversity from major ethnic groups in Malaysia. We want to make sure visitors are treated to authentic Malaysian food, not food that has their flavours toned down for the Canadian taste palate. Performances also are set up so that each Malay ethnic group showcases their heritage and culture. We want to create a pasar malam (night market) atmosphere – rowdy, hectic & crowded, but filled with the overwhelming aroma of food that is freshly served. We hope that visitors can feel that they’ve participated and experience a part of Malaysia’s pasar malam scene.”
Well that certainly was the case – when I entered the event, I was warmly greeted by lovely young people who take obvious pride in their cultural heritage and I soon got into the spirit of fun, food and fashions.
I bravely sampled some extra spicy hot Rendang (meat with lots of chillies and garlic) followed by the more gentle-on-my-tummy Kuih desserts (glutinous rice with coconut) which were very tasty pretty green morsels. All was dished up by the sweetest servers, too.
The students were very well organized and had the good fortune of generous sponsors and support from the Malaysian High Commission in Ottawa who kindly loaned many of the costumes showcased on the runway. I spoke with the lovely Hui Chin Wee (below) and asked her about her beautiful outfit with sparkly appliques and embroidery.
I finished off my visit with some photo opps with the students plus took quite a scary “selfie” – looks like the Rendang was fighting to get out!!!
Thanks to Kelvin, Jonathan and all the happy volunteers who put on a great show. Follow their student group on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/malaysianbazaartoronto and I highly recommend you join them at their next spicy soiree. You can learn more about Malaysia by visiting: http://www.tourismmalaysia.ca/