The Louisiana Himalaya Association recently raised more than $53,000 to assist the victims of two recent devastating earthquakes in Nepal.

After Hurricane Katrina, Nepal sent a $50,000 donation to Louisiana to help those affected by the storm. The purpose of the event “Full Circle: New Orleans to Nepal” was to return support to Nepal in its hour of need.

The event was held in the lush setting of the New Orleans Botanical Garden. A tent served as the focus for donated foods from local restaurants, as well as two bars, live music and a live auction conducted by celebrity auctioneer John Calhoun.

New Orleans musicians donated their time to entertain about 300 people. Scattered acoustic sets entertained during the early part of the evening until Mardi Gras Indians Big Chief David Montana, of The Washitaw Nation, and Wildman John, of the Wild Tchoupitoulas, started off the auction with traditional songs. Afterward, Harmonouche and Zazou City with the Earthquake Relief Band; Martin Krusche, Andrew MacLean and friends; and Buku Broux kept the festive atmosphere going.

Auctioneer John Calhoun used his talent in the live auction to raise more than $40,000 for the cause. In addition to auctioning artwork, sailing trips and vacation items, Calhoun led a lively noncompetitive bidding process to house homeless Nepalese families. With a bid as low as $100, guests could contribute housing for one family. The “Fund-a-Shelter” alone raised enough to house 3,500 families. Speakers included local filmmaker Kimberly Rivers-Roberts and author Thomas Laird.

“The night far exceeded my wildest dreams” said Daniel “Wink” Winkert, LHA board member. “From seeing a group of New Orleans residents from Nepal singing classic Nepali folk music, to Mardi Gras Indians customizing ‘Shallow Water’ lyrics to excite the crowd into giving to those in need, it was an amazing sight,” he said.

For information, visit lhainfo.org.