Nepal Festival fever is officially on with the Himalayan nation’s foreign minister Prakash Sharan Mahat arriving in Sydney Wednesday evening. He was received at the Sydney International Airport by a number of Nepali Congress (Nepal’s oldest and largest political party) activists based in Australia. Organisers of the Festival and the acting Nepalese ambassador in Canberra were also at the airport to welcome the minister.
It is noteworthy that since its inception in 2008, this is the first time that such a high level government delegation is attending the signature event of the Nepalese diaspora in Australia.
Mr Mahat is due to meet with Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop Thursday at noon. According to Dr Gyanendra Regmi who is the spokesperson for the Non-Resident Nepali Association (NRNA) Australia, the two leaders are expected to discuss bilateral relations between the two nations.
Dr Regmi said, quoting Chargé d’Affaires Rajendra Pandey at the Embassy of Nepal in Canberra, that the visiting minister will also meet with opposition leader Bill Shorten following his discussion with Foreign Minister Bishop.
Once both the meetings are over, Senator Sam Dastyari will throw a lunch party for the guest at the Parliament House, it is understood.
“These meetings will nodoubt enhance Nepal’s bilateral relationship with Australia. We did not want a government minister to travel all the way from Kathmandu, attend Nepal Festival and then head back home. That would not help diversify Nepal-Australia relationship. Therefore, NRNA Australia president Surendra Sigdel had earlier advised him to hold these meetings on the sidelines of the Festival,” Dr Regmi said in a conversation with southasia.com.au. Of course, this high level representation from the Government of Nepal will take Nepal Festival to new height, he added.
Organised by a massive team of dedicated volunteers headed by NSW State Coordination Council’s Dinesh Pokharel, this year’s Nepal Festival at the Tumbalong Park in Darling Harbour will kick off Saturday morning.
Apart from being the best place to try varieties of Nepalese food, Nepal Festival will also give visitors an opportunity to enjoy live music performed by Nepal’s best of singers who are already in Sydney.
NRNA, the organiser of the mega event, is urging members of the wider community to come and visit the stalls at the Festival this weekend. After all, it was envisaged to introduce Nepal and Nepalese culture to Australia, NRNA officials note.