A Malaysian Sensation
After giddily accepting the invite to Malaysian Night on Facebook the day before, I was so excited when my friends and I actually stepped into the SLC on Saturday night! The Malaysian Student Association at Vanderbilt (MSAV) put on a night of festivities, food, and fun in celebration of Eid, a religious holiday for Muslims, and Merdeka, the Malaysian Independence Day!
Umar and Iman, our adorably energetic MCs of the night, explained the traditional Malaysian outfits they wore. Umar modeled his baju melayu, the full outfit for men; his samping, the cloth wrapped around his waist; and his songkok, a black hat which reminded me of Abu’s hat from Aladdin. Iman showed off her dress, called the baju kurung, and her hijab, the head covering which she wears for religious Muslim, rather than cultural, practice.
The program of the night began as we wide-eyed Americans watched four Malaysian men bow to the audience and begin to dance-fight each other, reminding me of the capoeira that I learned about in a Music in Global Culture class. Our confusion dissolved after our knowledgeable MCs explained that we had just witnessed choreographed martial arts called silat.
A member of the MSAV read off of his iPhone an Islamic prayer both in Malay and English, and then we were dismissed to delight our taste buds. My, oh my, was there a delectable array of food! We filled our bellies with rotijala (net bread) which we paired with spicy curry; nasi kerabu (yellow rice) which we combined with sambal (chili paste), veggies, and steam dried fish; flavorful fried chicken; a kari pop (curry puff); and buah melaka, which was a coconut-covered, green dessert which reminded me of a Gusher, because it was filled with liquid sugar. My goodness, it was sweet!
While we chatted with new friends and feasted on this homemade food, we listened to music by a hot Malaysian rock band. In other music news, a Malaysian boy band played a few songs for us, including “Seize the Day” by Avenge Sevenfold, a Malay song called “Dan” by Sheila on 7, and the classic “Sweet Child of Mine” by Guns and Roses. Those guys were so cool.
The MSAV entertained us with a few videos as well. The first was an advertisement by Petronas, a Malaysian oil company which actually produces advertisements for every holiday in Malaysia. In this ad, we watched Chinese, Malay, Indian, and Eastern characters, who represented the four main ethnic groups of Malaysia, grow up and have babies. Next up was a heartwarming video made by the former president of MSAV who described the transition and friendship of Malaysian kids into American culture. It was actually really cute.
One of the final activities of the night was a game of sepak takraw, which translates literally into kick ball. This is a traditional game reminiscent of a fusion of hacky-sack and volleyball and you kick around rattan ball. The demonstrators of the game invited a few members of the audience to go play, so I volunteered my friend to play, and he promptly kicked the ball at the band’s guitar. Almost, D. , almost.
My friends and I had an amazing time and learned so much! MSAV, thank you for hosting and sharing your culture with us!
A special thanks to Iman Judin for being such a wonderfully nice person, for helping me out with all the Malaysian words, and for explaining this event more in depth over a lovely dinner. Also, all the photo credit goes to Aidil Muzamil Jalani and Iqbal Hilmy.