Food, music and culture from the Himalayan state of Nepal were at full-display at the heart of Auckland city, on Saturday, November 17, as a part of the first-ever outdoor celebration of Nepal festival.

New Zealand Nepal Association – a premier community organization that seeks to bring people of all language, ethnicities from Nepal together under one umbrella, has been traditionally hosting an indoor Nepal festival since last two decades, before deciding to take the festival outside to the wider audience of New Zealand this year.

The Auckland’s audience, both Kiwi and ethnic-migrants including the Kiwi-Indians, along with Auckland’s weather did not disappoint and came out in full, to support the festival-goers and international artists performing at the festival.

So did the dignitaries who turned out in significant numbers to support the growing community of the South Asian nation.

Among others, key were Auckland’s Mayor Phil Goff, Minister for Justice, Andrew Little, Minister for Ethnic Communities, Jenny Salesa, Parliamentary Under-Secretary and Labour MP Michael Wood, Leader of Opposition and National Party Leader Simon Bridges, Hon. Consul of India, Bhav Dhillon.

Several MPs from both sides including Labour’s Priyanca Radhakrishnan, and National’s Kanwaljit Singh Bakshi, Dr Parmjeet Parmar, Simeon Brown, Melisa Lee, were also present on the occasion.

Nepal’s Ambassador to New Zealand and Australia, Mrs Lucky Sherpa, who is based in Canberra, travelled all the way to Auckland to represent the government of Nepal, and showcase ‘One Country, Many Stories’ the theme of the festival.

The pre-event commenced with a parade by the members of the Nepali community holding placards, banners, with a folk dancer and musician leading the parade from Aotea Square till the Queen’s Wharf and back.

By noon, Aotea Square was pinned by a number of tents holding food stalls, ethnic dresses and jewellery corners, sponsor stalls and the most visited stall hosting the exhibition of arts and crafts of Nepal called ‘The Nepal House’.

The event commenced with the official ceremony and welcoming of the dignitaries with a ceremonial sash and Nepali cap called ‘Dhaka Topi’. President of the New Zealand Nepal Society, Dinesh Khadka acknowledged the presence and support of the guests and stated the importance of the grand Nepal Festival as a mean to showcase Nepal’s rich culture and the relationship Nepal shares with New Zealand starting with the ascent of Kiwi mountaineer Sir Edmund Hillary along with Sherpa Tenzing Norgay.

Ambassador Lucky Sherpa commended the efforts of the entire Nepali community in Auckland and others who had travelled from other regions to make the Nepal Festival event a reality and a benchmark for their community.

The most popular spot at the Nepal Festival besides the momos and other food stalls were the ‘Nepal House’, a booth exhibiting not the just the beauty of Nepal through its majestic landscapes captured in posters but also clothing, jewellery, arts and crafts of Nepal.

Post official ceremony, a range a mixture of Nepali folk, rock, Kollywood music and dance performances attracted and drew the bystanders and other city-goers towards the stage. This was followed by a high-octane performance by J Geeks, to which a few members of the crowd joined the stage and later concluding the event with the performance by an international troupe from Nepal, Kutumb.

“The response of the crowd was very welcoming and energetic especially when the international band Kutumba started playing. We saw not only Nepalese dancing in the tune of Kutumba, but there were quite a number of New Zealanders dancing with the Nepalese visitors. The main highlight for most of the New Zealanders was the Nepal house which was designed and led by Madan Shrestha which had an array of display of Nepalese handicraft, cultural dresses, and arts,” Joint Secretary of New Zealand Nepal Society, Prayash Chhetri told The Indian Weekender.

“The visitors including young Nepalese students, NZ born young Nepalese crowd and other New Zealanders, especially for the young Nepalese generation, it was a matter of pride as an event like these helped them introduce the Nepalese food, culture to their Kiwi friends,” Mr Chhetri added.