Dussera was the day after we reached the station of the unit, however the festivities were to start from that night onwards, the first of the pooja was the Kalratri, which was to start at mid-night.
In the center of the complex there was a well decorated clearing which was the focal point of the activities. At the stroke of mid-night the poojaris of the unit started reciting mantras and the CO and the Subedar Major conducted the pooja. The pooja started with balidan of a goat and ended with the firing of a gun salute
Early next morning the day started with Kumari Pooja where young girls from the neighboring villages were worshipped as a form of the goddess Kali. Clearly the villagers around the unit had great affection for the unit as could be seen by their active participation in all the festivities. The Kumari Pooja was followed by the Shastra Pooja and a hawan.
prize.jpg (53916 bytes)After that was the main Balidan Ceremony where the unit sacrificed a number of goats and a buffalo at the alter of the goddess. Each company sacrificed a goat followed by the young officers. Capt. Biradar who is from a strictly vegetarian background very sporting participated in the sacrifice and bonded with the boys by doing a balidan in one clean stroke. The Div. Commander then felicitated all those who had participated in the balidan.
beer.jpg (52299 bytes)After this the young officers whose promotion had come through were piped in and given their ranks. After taking their higher ranks came their true test….could they finish a bottle of beer without coming up for air?? All passed with flying colours!
The furious display of the Khukri followed next, this is the famous Khukri Dance of the Gorkha regiments, Lt. Nawang was to have led this dance on February 2001 but fate had destined otherwise. The dance consists of 10 basic Khukri thrust to the beats of drums, the tempo is slowly increased with each set and the towards the end this becomes of blur of blades and muscles with the Gorkhas wielding their deadly Khukri. In battle like in dance this weapon remains unsurpassed in its ferocity.
After this we adjourned to the tent for a fun afternoon of cultural program by the jawans and the children of the neighboring villages. There was a prize distribution to the outstanding students. The afternoon was topped of by dancing the traditional Jamre dance to the beats of the battalion band. A word to the uninitiated, Jamre is a very very tough dance and keeping up with the gorkha soldiers is not easy and I have aching legs to prove it!!