Feast for the senses as communities gather to celebrate

A celebration of food and culture filled the Dandenong Market on Sunday. Photo: Aditi Kutty
The pandemic may have stopped international flights, but Melburnians' tastebuds can still travel around the world. Naina Menon reports.

The Dandenong World Fare made a triumphant return on Sunday, offering foodies the chance to eat their way through traditional street cuisine from Sri Lanka, Bosnia and Afghanistan.

After the cancellation of last year’s event, the Fare welcomed back the public to the popular Dandenong Markets, where music, chatter and fragrant aromas filled the air.

Not only did the Fare bring communities together, but it also helped businesses that had been struggling through the pandemic.

Kadak Chai owner Shabbir Kanchwala said the pandemic had affected his business a lot.

“There was hardly any customers, so [COVID-19 impacted business] in a big way. I used to serve five customers a day and used to come at eight and finish at one o’clock in the afternoon.”

Feast for the senses as communities gather to celebrate
Eager foodies found a range of multicultural experiences as part of the event. Picture: Aditi Kutty

To many, the Fare held extreme significance after a year of restrictions and lockdowns prevented individuals from visiting family and friends interstate and overseas.

Kapa Haka performer Mahana Maihi Taniora said it was the first time the traditional Maori dance group had seen each other since the pandemic began.

To come out again and share our culture and seeing the smiles on everyone’s face is just so beautiful.

Ms Taniora wants to see more festivals like the World Fare taking place, especially after the pandemic.

“To have this festival with everyone all over the world [coming] together to share what’s the most beautiful thing about their cultures would [get us to] appreciate it more as well,” she said.

First-time attendee Elsie Bogaert said that while the event was not quite the same as visiting the countries, she still felt immersed in the various cultures.

“I could taste all the flavours of everywhere, so it [was] awesome,” she said.