Final week to enjoy Ramadan Nights at Lakemba

With only few days left to enjoy, the Ramadan Nights Festival showcases Australia's diverse cuisines. ...

The Ramadan Nights Festival at Lakemba which began on 2 April has entered its final week and will be concluding on Friday 1 May, 2022. The festival has been taking place on Haldon Street and Railway Parade of Lakemba in the city of Canterbury-Bankstown. The streets transform into a bustling hub of food, culture and diversity from 6.30 pm to 1 am each evening with crowds flocking to the various food vendors adorning the streets of Lakemba. Visitors can enjoy delicacies of Middle-Eastern, South Asian and various other cuisines which reflect the diversity of the flavours and people of the region.

Credit: City of Canterbury Bankstown – NSW Government

Ramadan is a holy month for the Muslim community. Members of the faith observe a fast each day of the month from dawn till dusk, abstaining from food, drink and any impermissible behaviour. The fast is concluded with a meal after sunset known as Iftar. The Ramadan Nights Festival at Lakemba has extended the Iftartradition beyond the Muslim community allowing everyone to experience in the delicacies that are relished in the holy month.

Satays from the Island Dreams Café are a good start to the night serving as an introduction to Malaysian/Indonesia cuisine. As visitors move further into Haldon Street, the aroma from Indian and Pakistani style kebabs grilling over hot coal will invite their tastebuds to a quick detour into South Asia. Bangladeshi restaurants serving biriyani and traditional snacks on Railway Parade also add a flavourful punch to the event.

Middle-Eastern cuisine is ubiquitous throughout the festival. Visitors can line up for the delicious camel burger, traditional kebab wraps, doner kebab or keep it simple with the crowd favourite chips on a stick. Murtabaks, egg paratha and fried foods are in abundant supply. Visitors can hydrate with a range of drinks from lemonades, sahlab, slushies and sand-heated coffee.

Credit: City of Canterbury Bankstown – NSW Government

Dessert connoisseurs should try the cheesy, crispy, sweet and savoury knafeh which has become the highlight of the culinary event. Each vendor adds their unique twist thus it is recommended to try them all. Crepes are also on offer for those looking to satisfy the post-dinner Nutella cravings.

Beyond feasting on the various dishes from around the world on display, the event allows visitors to talk to the vendors to know more about the history and significance of the dishes they are savouring. For those looking to explore cultures through food, the Ramadan Nights Festival is an excellent gateway to enter the diverse communities sprawled across Greater Western Sydney.

Getting to the festival

The City of Canterbury-Bankstown is offering free shuttle buses from Shakespeare Street car park at Campsie and Parry Park, Punchbowl Road before Wangee Road at Punchbowl. The festival is best accessed via Lakemba train station which is a 2-minute walk from the festival. Driving to the festival is an option but parking spaces become scarce as soon as the festival starts.

Other festivals

Most Blessed Nights Street Food Market at Liverpool’s Macquarie Mall is celebrating the various holy observances taking place in the month of April. Details can be found here.





The lucky (racist) country

Dinusha Soo dissects racism in Australia through the lens of Reg Mombassa's art....

For many of us growing up in Australia, we were often reminded of the fact that we live in the ‘lucky’ country, made up of a rich fabric of multiculturalism. Our diversity is touted as one of our key strengths, particularly when compared to other Western nations.

But for several Australians – our diversity is the very thing that can lead to oppression. One in five Australians have experienced racism in 2017 alone, according to a poll commissioned by the SBS with Western Sydney University.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, a large portion of this racism has been directed to Asian-Australians and prior to this, the Muslim population.

So, what makes Australia racist and has this always been the case?

When the White Australia Policy came into effect in 1901, anyone from a non- European background could not enter the country. This was not abolished until as late as 1973, all while the Stolen Generations period was occurring between the mid-1800s to the 1970s.

Then if we look at our current national anthem, which surprisingly came into effect in 1984, we would all be familiar with the words, “for we are young and free.” Harmless enough? “These very words sung in our Australian anthem ignore the 65,000 years or more of Indigenous Australian culture,” says France Mao in a BBC article.

Reflecting on Australia’s laboured efforts to recognise and afford rights to those of Indigenous descent, it presents as a mere example of underlying racism in this country.

One of Australia’s most renowned artists, Reg Mombassa provides searing political commentary through his artwork. When asked by Troublemag what he perceives as the most important societal issue in Australia today – his response was racism.

Design by Dinusha Soo
Design by Dinusha Soo

Reg has done several pieces discussing racism, one of his more notable designs was for Mambo, where an Australian representation of Jesus extends an olive branch with the words “Australian Jesus welcomes the boat people.”

In recent times, these ‘boat people’ have been denied entry to Australia, even if they were facing persecution in their homelands. Australia currently has agreements with neighbouring countries, to process asylum seekers ‘offshore.’

The Refugee Council of Australia states that this means that people seeking asylum are generally detained, often for long and uncertain periods”. Additionally, there is no independent review of the decision to detain, and people have been detained for increasingly long periods.

“The detention of people seeking asylum under this regime is one of the harshest in

the world and causes terrible suffering,” the Refugee Council of Australia states.

As Australians who recognises our past and indeed our current policies – we must strive to do better. This will require having a sense of empathy and understanding toward our fellow humans, irrespective of the colour of their skin, their creed or their cultural beliefs. It is only by striving for a more equitable society, will movements like Black Lives Matter, which resonates with people globally, have any profound impact on our own culture here in Australia.