On the 24th of November 2020, Sunway’s Cultural Exchange Unit launched another successful event called “Discover Mauritius”. Mauritius is a hidden gem on earth with its beautiful scenery as well as its cultural heritage.
As the pandemic is still at its peak, the event was held via “zoom”. The event began at 5.05 pm with a warm welcome from Joey Lim, the coordinator of Sunway’s Cultural Exchange Unit from Student Life. An introductory video was presented to the audience to show the community’s effort into breaking endless boundaries among nations such as the United Kingdom, South Korea, Mauritius and many more.
Following on, there was a “Discover Mauritius” sharing session by Miss Belinda who is from Mauritius Tourism Promotion Authority (MTPA). She was delighted of having this opportunity to share the beauty of Mauritius and began by sharing to the audience a few slides to give a better insight into Mauritius.
Mauritius is a small island that has a lot to offer to its people as well as tourists. Created 3 million years ago by volcanic eruptions under the sea, Mauritius is now located in the South West of the Indian Ocean. Mauritians converse using English(universal language), French and Creole (native language) throughout their daily lives. Its language was influenced due to its rich history, with the French colonisation in 1710 until 1815, following on with British conquering Mauritius in 1815 until 1968. Finally, on the 12th of March 1968, Mauritius achieved its independence and was then identified as a republic nation from the 12th of March 1992 for almost 52 years! The famous Dodo bird which is sadly extinct is an icon that represents Mauritius in their souvenirs or handicrafts.
In terms of economic sectors, tourism in Mauritius has become the 3rd pillar of the Mauritian economy after the manufacturing and financial sector, not forgetting Mauritian hospitality which welcomes everyone into their home with a warm smile. They are acknowledged for their various awards received in maintaining a perfect tourism destination. Mauritius is proud of its tropical island especially during summer which ranges from November to April and winter from May to October.
Culture in Mauritius plays a crucial asset to its people and the tourism sector as it is a multicultural society. Ranging from Indians, Chinese, Malays and many more due to the colonisation before achieving independence. The beauty of Mauritius resides precisely in its cultural heritage coming from Asia, Europe and African continent.
Mauritius has also been acknowledged with two world heritage UNESCO Sites. One of them is Aapravasi Ghat which was an immigration depot where Indian indentured labourers landed in 1849 and the other is Le Morne Brabant which is the slave route monument. Mauritius’s cultural heritage was also acknowledged by UNESCO. Sega, a traditional dance of the Mauritian leads back to the slavery era where the slaves would dance around the bonfire to lift up their spirits through the darkest times. Meanwhile, Greet Gawali is an opening ritual for the Indian wedding.
Besides, Port Louise as Mauritius’ capital city is known for its handicraft market. Talented locals put their skills to good use and craft various souvenirs which catch the attention of tourists and locals as well. Its local market is also famous for being a shopping spree site.
Apart from that, this ideal destination is perfect for every type of occasion. Many couples visit Mauritius as a wedding site or a honeymoon place. It truly is a perfect destination getaway with interesting places such as crocodile parks and eye-catching activities for the brave to walk with lions! And not forgetting, there’s hiking, kitesurfing, skydiving, quad biking and stand-up paddle.
It doesn’t just end there. Mauritius provides a fascinating opportunity to have lunch in a submarine while enjoying the sea life up close called blue safari. In addition to that, Mauritius also offers unique attractions such as botanical gardens created during the French colonisation, portraying 7 coloured soil formed by volcanic eruptions which have solidified. For the youngsters who wish to indulge in something new, rum tasting is the one to look out for. Through the process of rum-making with sugarcane, various flavours of rum are produced. Last but not least, there are 10 professional 18-hole golf courses which have held many international tournaments. This golf course is unique as it was first introduced by the British.
Mauritius is also known for its unique festivals. The Festival International Creole is where all Mauritians come together for a few days of fun with concerts, carnivals and various street food to try out. Port-Louis by Light is an annual event where Port-Louis is decorated with lights to highlight the capital city’s beauty at night. Meanwhile, regatta is a boat competition organised for fishermen to bring out their joy in boats. Lastly, a suitable event for workers known as meetings, incentives, conferences, exhibitions (MICE) is held to promote Mauritius as a site for event gathering among coworkers.
Before the end of Miss Belinda’s sharing, she included that Mauritius has launched #mauritiusnow campaign as part of a post-Covid-19 event which shows the island through live webcams. Despite the recent oil spill that has affected 3 percent of the island, a rehabilitation process is ongoing to preserve its beauty. Mauritius is also promoting a one-year visa which is renewable for those who are able to work remotely and seek a getaway during this pandemic. Later, a lovely video touring around Mauritius highlighting its beauty was shown as an end to the sharing session.
The event continued with a “Food in Mauritius” workshop by the facilitators. The workshop began with an interesting ice-breaking session with a small game. Pictures of food were shown to be guessed. However, the twist in this game is that food that is familiar in Malaysia also exists with different names in Mauritius. After that fun session, one of the facilitators, Abdurraheem virtually took the audience on a street food snacks hunting trip in Mauritius through a video where he tried various food, drinks and even desserts! Sarah was able to show us how a local Mauritian bakery looks like. According to her, freshly made and baked bread or specifically referred to as baguet is served for breakfast and tea time. Moving on, Jayanee toured with the participants on the Southside of Mauritius and explored the local street food. Another snack introduced which is similar to pickled fruits is called kohee. Anbreene also shared the Mauritian Biryani enjoyed alongside some green chili and some tamarind sauce.
Furthermore, a live food presentation from the facilitators who were diligent to show the audience the finger-licking food virtually was held. The first sharing was from Anbreene with the Mauritian biryani made by her uncle and chicken tikka that is usually eaten with bread and/or ketchup. Paridhi shared the Mauritian roti eaten with rougaille and butter beans sauce, fried rice and fried noodles cooked by Paridhi herself. Sarah shared Gato Piment (commonly known as masala vadai in Malaysia), plain baja, baja Piment (spicier version), chicken rougaille (curry) and kucha( mango based pickle). Lastly by Abdur Raheem shared an ASMR of crunchy samosas and “arouille” (deep-fried fritter). He also shared “chanapuri” (consisting of yellow split peas soaked in gram flour and deep-fried, usually filled with potato) and “gato brinzel” (eggplant soaked in gram flour and deep-fried).
Participants were then moved into breakout rooms for a closer conversation to get to know Mauritius even better. Topics consisting of Language in Mauritius, places to visit in Mauritius, and various festivals celebrated in Mauritius. With fun comments filling up the conversation for about 15 minutes, the event sadly came to an end. Thanking all facilitators and participants for joining the session, the coordinators ended the session assuring Sunway’s Cultural Exchange will return with more interesting events.
Written by: Nivhya
Edited by: Wu Wen Qi