The smell of great food and the sound of chatter filtered through the air Saturday night as the Ravenna Eckstein Community Center doors opened.
The smell emanated from the momos, a Nepali food similar to the Chinese pot sticker, but different in its preparation and paired with a sauce similar to curry. The chatter, however, arose from the UW’s Nepalese Student Association (NSA), and the Nepal Seattle Society (NSS) gathering, as the two organizations held their annual Momo Festival.
“I’m always excited when I’m invited to the Momo Festival,” international studies David Citrin said. He thinks the food is terrific, and he really enjoys the graciousness with which the community always greets him.
Aside from festivals, the NSA comes together in times of need, like after the Nepal earthquake in April. They began to raise money for relief efforts, and they continue to do so now.
“We wanted to go there and do it ourselves, but that was practically and financially impossible,” NSA treasurer Sanju Bhattarai said. “It’s better to be working with programs than to stand here and be anxious about it.”
Their efforts have already helped rebuild two primary schools in Namjun and Simjung, Gorkha District.
The NSA is currently rebuilding a Shree Himalaya secondary school in Simjung, Gorkha District. Approximately $8,500 is going toward the renovation of the school. In addition, the group is also working with an outbreak prevention program with Dhulikhel hospital.
In all, the NSA raised approximately $20,000 from the university community during the previous spring and summer quarters.
Biraj Karmacharya, a member of the NSA, said they have recently started a Nepal Studies Initiative, and will have a UW class under the Jackson School of International Studies for winter quarter. The topic will focus on contemporary issues in Nepali society.
“This momentum will continue,” Karmacharya said, “and we will continue to bring together the Nepalese community in Seattle and also those in Nepal.”
Mohan Gurung, the former president of the NSS also expressed sentiments about community, saying the NSS has been around for 15 years, but it now has a brother, one from the UW.
“We like to work together,” current NSS president Ganesh Shiwakoti said, “to better promote the Nepalese culture.”
The national Dashain Tihar Dhamaka Festival is coming up on Oct. 25, a combined celebration of two of the most renowned Nepalese festivities. The event is put on by the NSS, and joined by the NSA, costing $20-50.