HONG KONG, October 15, 2021 (SCMP): Dussehra, also known as Dashain, which takes place on October 15 this year, is marked by thousands across Hong Kong. While Diwali – the Hindu Festival of Lights – is more widely celebrated by local Indian communities, Dussehra is beloved of the Nepali contingent. From Yau Ma Tei to Yuen Long, the festival is observed, in various ways, by hundreds of locally domiciled Nepali families. All have in common an ancestral connection – now, a couple of generations removed – to Gurkha servicemen who spent part of their careers in Hong Kong.

Nepali-style observance of Dussehra in Hong Kong dates back to 1949, with the arrival from Malaya of the first Gurkha regiment to serve in the territory, after the partition of India in 1947. For almost half a century, the Brigade of Gurkhas were a colorful, if discreet, fixture of local life. From 1971, when the last British forces moved up from Singapore and Malaysia, until the Training Depot at Shek Kong closed in 1994, and relocated to Britain, Hong Kong was home station. Dussehra was the biggest annual festival for the Gurkhas. The night before the festival was another celebration, Kalaratri (Night of Darkness), which signified the real party for everyone. Preparations around the various army camps, and on the family lines (as Gurkha married quarter areas were known), went on for several days.

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