Gurkha Children Go Around Mount Vernon Camp & Sing To Celebrate Nepali Festival

Gurkha Children Celebrate Nepali Festival At Mount Vernon Camp With Folk Songs & Dance

Singapore’s Police Force (SPF) includes the famous Gurkha Contingent, made up of soldiers from Nepal. But did you know that their families reside with them in Singapore and celebrate festivals together too?

The Gurkha Contingent’s soldiers and their families stay in Mount Vernon Camp, also known as the Gurkha Cantonment.

In a viral TikTok video, Nepali children and teens go from door to door in the camp, singing folk songs known as ‘Bhailo’ and ‘Deusi’ for a yearly festival.

The seldom-known festivities netted the enthusiastic kids some money, and us some insight into their traditions.

Gurkha children celebrate festival in Mount Vernon Camp

The well-trained Gurkha Contingent works hard for Singapore’s security. Despite this, most Singaporeans know little about the lives of the Gurkha soldiers.

Source: Singapore Police Force on Facebook

They stay in the Gurkha Cantonment, or Mount Vernon Camp, with their families from Nepal.

Every year, they celebrate Tihar, a multi-day festival similar to Deepavali.

TikTok videos of day one uploaded on 13 Nov by user @julesthapa showed children excitedly dashing about Mount Vernon Camp’s corridors.

Source: @julesthapa on TikTok

Jules’ video of the second day went viral, showing the Nepali children going from door to door singing traditional folk songs known as ‘Bhailo’ and ‘Deusi’.

Source: @julesthapa on TikTok

In doing so, they can receive some money, likened to ang bao traditions during Chinese New Year. Some young kids even excitedly carried their piggy banks around, ready for ‘deposits’.

Source: @julesthapa on TikTok

Speaking to MS News, Jules shared that toddlers who just sing will usually get 10 to 20 cents while older children will get up to 50 cents.

Those who come in groups can receive up to S$10 depending on whether they sing or dance.

“They get more when they perform,” noted Jules.

While these amounts may not seem like much, it does come up to quite a bit considering the volume of children going around the houses.

Jules mentioned that there are over 200 children visiting a single house per night. The festivities usually span over two nights.

As there are many blocks around the Contingent, one can imagine why the kids anticipate the exciting event that practically gives them “free pocket money”.

Children & teens sing Nepali folk songs

Young children weren’t the only ones partaking in festivities though. Teenagers joined in the fun too, singing away and clapping to the beat, to the amusement of the adults.

Source: @julesthapa on TikTok

Meanwhile, some of the less shy youths took to dancing along to the folk songs.

Source: @julesthapa on TikTok

Some got into it with even greater enthusiasm, dancing happily together.

Source: @julesthapa on TikTok

In the clips, the young visitors can be heard saying “aunty pretty” and “uncle handsome”, a practice that is unique to the Nepalese community in Singapore, said Jules.

“… to cheekily get more money they would add ‘Aunty pretty, uncle handsome’,” she shared.

“These are unique to only Singapore Gurkha kids since the older generations came up with it.”

As it turns out, children in Nepal usually only go to their friends’ or relatives’ houses during this festival.

It is slightly different in Singapore where every child can go around the blocks of the community.

Several videos also featured girls and women in exquisite dresses performing energetic dances in lift lobbies and other common areas.

Source: @julesthapa on TikTok

Beyond the activities, there were scrumptious-looking food for people to dig into as well.

Source: @julesthapa on TikTok

Pictured above is the Sel roti, a ring-shaped sweet fried dough made from rice flour.

Flower garlands & multi-coloured lights adorn homes

Just like how Singapore’s various cultural streets light up for their respective occasions, homes at the Gurkha Cantonment were adorned with flower garlands and fairy lights.

Source: @julesthapa on TikTok

On 15 Nov, the Nepali community celebrated Bhai Tika. Siblings mark each other’s foreheads with a seven-coloured ‘tika’ and place a special garland around their necks to symbolise long life.

Source: @julesthapa on TikTok

Jules shared with MS News that Bhai Tika is one major event, alongside Deusi Bhailo, celebrated by the community during the Tihar festival.

Another major festival that the community celebrates is Dashain in October which is considered to be “the biggest Nepali festival”, said Jules.

During the Dashain, elders place coloured (red or white) Tika on the youngers’ foreheads and give them blessings in cash.

All in all, it’s certainly an interesting look into one of the lesser-known festivities in multicultural Singapore.

Also read: Gurkhas Come Across Unconscious Cyclist In Woodlands & Perform CPR, They Save His Life

Gurkhas Come Across Unconscious Cyclist In Woodlands & Perform CPR, They Save His Life

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Featured image adapted from @julesthapa on TikTok, TikTokTikTok.

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