Brunch

Community, food, and music: MJF Centre, Moratuwa to host its inaugural Night Market

This weekend will see the birth of a new monthly event to create a stronger sense of community among the residents of Moratuwa and Colombo. 

On 27 March, the MJF (Merrill J. Fernando) Centre Moratuwa will host its inaugural Night Market, a street food fiesta with a cause, where residents of Moratuwa can get together for an evening of food, music, entertainment, and shopping. 

Brunch spoke with MJF Centre Moratuwa Manager Rehana Wettasinghe for a little more insight on what to expect at the Night Market. “This is the first time the Night Market is happening,” Wettasinghe shared, and it will be happening under strict adherence to safety protocols. We have got approval from the public health inspectors, and are working with the Community Police as well.”

The objective of the Night Market is to provide a platform for vendors whose businesses may have been affected by the pandemic and create opportunities for vendors and businesses to restart an old business or turn a hobby or passion into a business that can generate income at a time when many are struggling. 

Wettasinghe explained that the Night Market will include vendors from all walks of life, with some vendors, like a clay pot vendor, having been discovered selling their wares by the side of the road; and some vendors being differently-abled, explaining that one of the vendors, who sells eggs, is wheelchair-bound. 

The Night Market will feature a variety of food vendors, and Wettasinghe shared that the MJF Centre has tried to build as diverse a food range as possible. “We’ll be having freshly fired kavum, kokis, and kavili, hopper and barbeque stations, a cart selling vadais, and, of course, Dilmah Tea.” Above all, Wettasinghe said that the Night Market wants to provide positive exposure and a positive experience for the vendors and fun and entertaining music, healthy food options, and retail experience to the community.

The Night Market will also celebrate International Women’s Day (IWD) in its own way. “Ninety-five percent or more of the vendors at the Night Market are females; as this is the month of March, we gave priority to them,” Wettasinghe explained, adding: “Some of them were people who have lost their jobs and had to close down their own businesses like salons and had to go on to do things like making bags; some have lost their jobs after being repatriated; some are young mothers. What we’re looking to do is start off something and create an opportunity for them to earn some extra income.”  

Wettasinghe also shared that in its future editions (the Night Market will take place monthly), they will bring in more diversity among vendors and products.

Community is nothing without children, and the Night Market keeps this well in mind with activities that have been designed to keep children well occupied as well with performances from theatre group Power of Play, featuring Sri Lanka’s first and only giant puppet, Saama – The Little Girl Giant of Sri Lanka, that will be spaced out through the evening; guided tours of Sri Lanka’s first urban Arboretum; and, weather permitting, a screening of Disney’s Moana under the stars (with Sinhala subtitles). 

The Night Market also focuses on another community bonding tool that never fails music. “Moratuwa is famous for its musicians, and the Night Market is also an opportunity for anyone, from young musicians to professional musicians, to come and play,” Wettasinghe explained, adding: “We will have the space and equipment also set up so anyone can bring their instruments and come and sing and play. This is something that we hope will lift up musicians’ spirits as well.” 

 

The Night Market will take place at the MJF Centre, Moratuwa (adjoining K Zone) on Saturday, 27 March from 5.30 to 10 p.m. For more information, please visit the MJF Foundation Facebook page.