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By Ashley Sim
KUCHING, Sept 21: In the heart of Kuching City, a spectacular event takes place every year that beautifully exemplifies the power of diversity coming together in perfect harmony.
The 20th edition of the Kuching Intercultural Mooncake Festival, which runs for 10 days from September 20 to 29, returns this year to Carpenter Street, one of the oldest streets in the city.
Held in conjunction with the Mid-Autumn Festival, also known as the Moon Festival or Mooncake Festival on September 29, the event transforms a traditional Chinese celebration into a multicultural street fair that welcomes not only the local Kuching and Sarawak community, but also tourists from all over the world.
DayakDaily attended the first night of this year’s event last night. We were astounded to witness Carpenter Street bustling with stalls offering a wide array of food options. Additionally, talented singers provided captivating entertainment, and there were also engaging game booths available for everyone’s enjoyment.
The heart of any festival is its food, and the Kuching Intercultural Mooncake Festival is no exception. Here, you’ll find an array of mouthwatering dishes and, of course, an astonishing variety of mooncakes.
One delicacy that stands out as a daring and exotic delight – Balut. This Filipino specialty has made its way to Kuching, surprising and delighting patrons in search of a unique culinary experience.
For those attending the Kuching Intercultural Mooncake Festival, trying Balut is not just about tasting an exotic dish; it’s about embracing the spirit of cultural exchange, open-mindedness, and a love for culinary exploration. It’s an experience that not only broadens the palate but also deepens the appreciation for the diverse world of food.
Another unique highlight at the event is the sale of ‘layer mooncakes’. These mooncakes have a filling consisting of colourful layers of kek lapis (Sarawak layer cake), a specialty of Maria Kek Lapis.
An employee of Maria Kek Lapis told DayakDaily that the proprietor, Maria Ngui, who is of Chinese and Bidayuh descent, has been selling these special mooncakes for many years during the festival.
Ngui’s mooncakes are available in the traditional baked skin and snowskin varieties, with a wide range of kek lapis flavours.
“Maria Kek Lapis has a physical shop located on Jalan Main Bazaar here and has a halal certificate from the Department of Islamic Development Malaysia (Jakim). So, our mooncakes sold here are halal. Mooncakes are definitely gaining popularity among Muslims,” the employee said.
Tourism, Creative Industry, and Performing Arts (MTCP) Sarawak Minister Dato Sri Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah, who officiated at the event last night, stated that the Mid-Autumn Festival, in addition to Chinese New Year, is a very important celebration for the Chinese community.
“The Mooncake Festival reflects unity and family bonds. Mooncakes are always round in shape; you don’t see mooncakes in square shape. Therefore, it has a profound significance, as when it is round, it is a symbol of unity and a time for celebration,” he said.
Abdul Karim opined that many more such festivals should be held throughout the year in order to create more vibrant nighttime scenes in the city centre.
“Sometimes I feel Kuching is a little bit quiet at night. We need to have these kinds of activities and night markets. When you go to other places, whether it’s Hong Kong, Japan, and South Korea, you have these activities every night. It helps the local community.
“I’m also very happy to see that when I walk down the street, there are many patrons who are not from Kuching. Some of them are from Australia, the United Kingdom, and other countries. When I see visitors coming in, whether they are from this region or from elsewhere, I know they will help the tourism industry in some way,” he added.
Carpenter Street’s annual transformation during the Kuching Intercultural Mooncake Festival is nothing short of magical. It is a testament to the power of community, diversity, and tradition.
In this enchanting celebration, the people of Sarawak come together on Carpenter Street to weave a vibrant tapestry of cultures, flavours, and dreams, reminding us all that unity can be found in the most unexpected and beautiful places.
The Kuching Intercultural Mooncake Festival is a shining example of how a street can become a stage for unity and a canvas for cultural celebration. — DayakDaily