Catterick’s Gurkha recruits celebrate Hindu festival

The sun finally shone for more than 400 Gurkha recruits at the Infantry Training Centre in Catterick Garrison as they celebrated one of their most sacred festivals in the Hindu calendar – Dashain.

The recruits and the permanent staff gathered yesterday at their Temple in Helles Barracks to take part in the Pujari ceremony led by their Pandit Atma Ram Dahal, who has been with the Gurkhas for nearly 40 years.

The ceremony includes praying for good wishes before specially cut barley shoots are wrapped around an ear as a blessing to fertility.

The barley shoots had been grown and prepared by a dedicated team who had spent ten days living, eating and praying in the temple.

Major Gyan Dhenga, the Officer Commanding the Gurkha’s Babaji Company, said the Dashain celebrations in Nepal lasted for 15 days but in the military it was very difficult to find such time, but they had co-ordinated events very well this year.

He said the Gurkhas recruits had to organise their leave around such festivities and would have to do the same towards the end of the month when they would be celebrating three days of Tihar, the Festival of Light.

“There are so many different Hindu countries around the world which do not celebrate Dashain like we do but it is important for us to celebrate as we do within the Brigade of Gurkhas as this is our culture and so it is vital to teach the younger generation of soldiers this culture,” he added.