Thursday, April 21, 2011

Buddhism in Nepal

Buddhism in Nepal

Buddhism has significant number of its residents in Nepal. Approximate 26% of the population practises Buddhism, specially Tibetan form of Buddhism. Nepal can be said to be the meeting point of Indian and Tibetan streams of Buddhism. This is not surprising for Nepal is in close proximity to Tibet. Fine Buddhist art has also hugely developed in Nepal. Ethnic groups residing in Central Nepal are mostly the followers of Buddhism. Buddhism in Nepal has also been influenced by Hinduism, another dominant religion in Nepal.

History of Nepal Buddhism
Siddhartha Gautama, who founded Buddhism, was himself born in an ancient kingdom of Nepal. The country's closeness with India ensured that it became a treasury of Buddhist Sanskrit literature. Emperor Ashoka of India had established a pillar in Lumbini, the birthplace of Lord Buddha. Gradually, Buddhism became a dominant religion in sparsely populated northern areas of the country.

Buddhist Pilgrimage Sites in Nepal
Nepal hosts several Buddhist pilgrimage sites which are highly revered by the Buddhists. Ancient stupas of Swayambhunath and Bodhnath are considered most sacred among Nepali pilgrimage sites.

Kapilvastu, a historic town, is closely associated with Buddha's life. It is located about 250 km from Kathmandu and 25 km from Lumbini. It was here where Siddhartha Gautama, who later became Lord Buddha, was born in the sixth century B.C. Lord Buddha lived in Kapilvastu to the age of 29. Today the town is visited for religious, cultural and archaeological importance

Divine feelings like spirituality and holiness occupy one's heart when one is in Lumbini. Included among the world heritage sites, Lumbini has rich natural backdrop and impressive architectural beauty. The city, located in South-Western Terai of Nepal, is one of the most important Buddhist pilgrimages.

Swayambhunath, located west of Kathmandu is a pilgrimage held in high esteem Swambhunath can be literally translated as 'self-existent Buddha'. The grand stupa tells how Buddhism spread its influence in Nepal. The Stupa tells all about history and origin of Buddhism in Nepal.

Tibetan culture can be experienced in Bodhnath Stupa, located in Kathmandu valley. After the 1959 Chinese invasion, thousands of Tibetans arrived in Bouddhanath. Henceforth, the temple developed as one of the most important centers of Tibetan Buddhism. This largest stupa in Nepal was erected sometime in the 14th century after the Mughal invasion.

Branches of Buddhism
Buddhism in Nepal comprises Theravada, Mahayana and Vajrayana streams. The Tibetan Mahayana tradition has most of its adherents in northern Nepal, with approximately 3000 monasteries. Newar Vajrayana Buddhism is a popular religious system in the Kathmandu Valley with number of rituals.Some Nepalese have also turned to Theravada practice based on the Pali canon.

Buddhist Practices
Prostrating pilgrims, the spinning of prayer wheels, collective chants and burning lamps are some popular Buddhist practices often seen by tourists. Buddhists believe that if a slip of paper bearing a mantra is kept inside the wheels, the prayers reach gods when the wheel is spun. Several Buddhists are seen performing these practices in Buddhist religious sites all around the country.

About Nepal

Let’s know about Nepal

Nepal is unique in the region of South Asia that includes India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka because it is the only country of any size to have maintained its independence. Nepal was never a British colony.

The Kathmandu Valley is the political and historical heartland of Nepal. There were cultures centered there as early as the eighth or seventh century BC . Indian inscriptions dated to the fourth century AD refer to a kingdom called "Nepala" in the Himalayan Mountains. The birth of modern Nepal can to be traced to the eighteenth century. The Gurkhas, a warlike people, are thought to have been princes fleeing Muslim persecution in western India. They established themselves in the mountains of what is now western Nepal in the mid-sixteenth century. In 1768, Prithvi Narayan Shah, the ninth king in the Gurkha dynasty, conquered the Kathmandu Valley, where the capital of modern Nepal, Kathmandu, is located.

Disputes over its southern border led Nepal (ruled by Gurkhas) into conflict with the British in India. Defeat during the Anglo-Gurkha war (1814–1816) saw Nepal's expansion halted and its borders fixed in their present locations. From 1816 to 1951, Nepal did not allow foreigners to enter—its borders were closed.

By the mid-twentieth century, the Nepali National Congress called for the establishment of a democratic government. A new constitution was proclaimed in 1990. This created a true parliamentary democracy, legalized political parties, and made provisions for a popularly elected legislature. The first general election under the new system was held in May 1991. As of 1998, King Birendra Bir Bikram Shah Dev continued to rule as a constitutional monarch, but without much power.

Nepal is a landlocked state on the northern mountain rim of South Asia, the region that includes India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, and Sri Lanka. Its inhabitants number 21.5 million people, living in an area of 56,139 square miles (145,391 square kilometers), roughly the size of Iowa. Nepal extends 500 miles (800 kilometers) in a generally east-west direction, but it is only approximately 80 to 140 miles (125 to 225 kilometers) wide in the north-south direction. The country is surrounded on the east, south, and west by India. China lies to the north.

Nepal is truly a mountain kingdom, with a quarter of its land over 9,800 feet (3,000 meters) in altitude. The only lowland of note lies in the extreme south, where the country extends into the plains near the Ganges River. The Terai is a narrow belt of land that was at one time a swampy, malaria-infested forest about 25 miles (40 kilometers) wide, but is now home to over a third of Nepal's population, much of its agriculture and industry, and several government wildlife reserves.

North of the Terai, the land rises to an elevation of 2,450 to 4,900 feet (750 to 1,500 meters), before descending to a series of east-west running valleys known as duns . From the duns, the terrain rises steadily toward the main ranges of the Himalayas. The Nepal Himalayas contain eight peaks over 26,200 feet (8,000 meters), including Mount Everest, the world's highest mountain at 29,028 feet (8,848 meters). Kanchenjunga, Dhaulagiri, and Annapurna are among the better-known peaks of this group.

The Kathmandu Valley lies north of the Mahabharat Lekh ranges at around 4,300 feet (1,300 meters) above sea level. It is the cultural and historical heart of Nepal, containing the modern capital of Kathmandu, and the cities of Patan and Bhaktapur.

Nepal's climate and vegetation reflect the country's wide range of elevations. The Terai experiences an average temperature in June, the warmest month, of 95° F (35° C), while winter temperatures drop to 50° F (10° C). Rainfall is received during the summer monsoon, with amounts varying from 80 inches (200 centimeters) in the east to 40 inches (100 centimeters) in the west. As one moves northwards into the mountains, temperatures decrease and rainfall increases. Above 13,100 feet (4,000 meters), the climate is alpine, with short summers and long, severe winters. The higher elevations are under snow year-round.

The peoples of southern Nepal are like their Indian neighbors. Caste (social classification) remains the prime factor in relations. (For more information on castes, see the chapter on India in Volume 4.) There is considerable freedom of movement and intermarriage across the border between Nepal and India.

The term "Newar" is used to describe the inhabitants of the Kathmandu Valley regardless of their ethnic origin. Peoples of Mongoloid descent include the groups who traditionally have served as Gurkha soldiers. Technically, there is no single ethnic group called Gurkha, the name being derived from soldiers of the Kingdom of Gorkha whose ruler conquered the Kathmandu Valley in the eighteenth century.

The northern mountain belt is inhabited by the Sherpas who are closely related to the Tibetans.

Festivals of Nepal 2011-2012

Festival of Nepal

It is said about Nepal that every other structure is a holy shrine every other day of festival. Well if the number of annual festival. Both religious and national, is any indication, the saying couldn't be more true Festival is an essential part of Nepalese life that garner emend us local participant. Festival also offers visitors valuable opportunity not only for having fun but gaining insight into various aspects of Nepalese culture.

The religious festivals follow the lunar calendar. While national festivals have fixed dates. Wherever or whenever you arrive in Nepal, you can be pretty sure of being at the right time for one for one more special events. Some of the major and interesting festivals are presented below.

(Naya Varsha B.S. 01-01-2068) Nepali New Year (14 April 2011): The Nepalese New Year's Day usually falls in the second week of April. i .e. the first day of Baisakh. The day is observed as a national holiday. The people celebrate it with a great pomp and show. On this occasion, Bisket Jatra is held in the city of Bhaktapur.

Mata Tirtha Aunshi 20 -01-2068 Mother's Day (03 May 2011) Mata Tirtha Aunshi falls in the month of Baishak (April). This festival falls in the time of dark moon’s time; so its called Mata Tirtha Aunshi. Mata means mother and Tirtha means pilgrimage, so in this way it’s called Mata Tirtha Aunshi. This festival is observed in the commemoration and respect of the mother. So its mother’s reading day as well. All Devotees worship their living mother at their home itself and the person whose mother have been passed away, they go to the Mata Tirtha place which is in Kathmandu. A very grand spectacular religions fair takes place at Mata Tirth pilgrimage one this day. Thousands of devotees flock there to worship and to take a holy bath in the pious Mata Tirtha pond in the high reverence of their deceased mothers. After the holy bath and worship they donate some subsidiary items with money to the barman priests staying.

Baisakh Poornima 03-02-2068 B.S. (17 May 2011) Lord Buddha's Birth Anniversary): As Nepal is the birthplace of Lord Buddha, the Light of Asia, the triple anniversary of the Buddha's birth, enlightenment and death is observed with many colorful ceremonies on this day. People celebrate the occasion with great veneration paying homage to Buddha at places kike Swayambhunath, Bouddhanath and Lumbini.

Red Machchhendranath Rath Jatra (May-June): This festival is the biggest socio-cultural event of Patan. The wheeled chariot of a deity known as bungdyo or Red Machchhendranath is made at Pulchowk and dragged through the city of Patan in several stages till it reaches the appointed destination (Lagankhel). The grand finale of the festival is called the 'Bhoto Dekhaune' or the "showing of a vest". A similar kind of chariot festival to Machchhendranath (white) is also held in Kathmandu city in the month of May-Jun.

Dumji: It is celebrated in all the Sherpa settlements in the month of July. The Sherpas of Kathmandu and Helambu region participate in dancing on this day. Guru Purnima festival celebration homage to the teacher, The Guru Purnima day is also known as Guru Byash Purnima. This festival comes on the full moon day in 31 Ashadh 2068 (15 July 2011). This Guru Purnima day is dedicated to teachers and that’s called Guru Purnima. The guru or a teacher guides us in all conditions and gives us inspiration to walk on the right way in our life. So this is very importance of a (guru) a teacher in our life.

Nag Pachmi: Hindu Nag Panchami festival on 04 August 2011(19 Shawan 2068. All hindu devotees, picture of Nag is put on the main door of the home. The snake god and offer milk and prayed on this day.

Janai Purnima 13 August 2011 (28 Sharwan 2068) Janai Purnima is one of the very magnanimous festival of Nepal. This festival falls in the 13 August 2011 (28 Shawan 2068). The Bramans and Chretry community ties in the Nepal change their sacred thread janai on this day from their guru after taking a holy bath or deep in the river. Janai is tied long from around their left neck to the next right armpit ‘s below. They tie the dhago around their right wrist also from the guru.

Gaijatra (Cow festival): 14 August 2011(29 Sharwan 2068) According to the lunar calendar, this festival is second day of Janai Purnima. This festival is grandly in Kathmandu, Bhatapur and Patan cities. The people decorate the cow and small children like joking cartoon and walk through out the city in small group. It is believed that if this festival is celebrated in this way with the help to cow, the deceased persons’ soul who has died during the year, will get chance soon to rest in the haven soon and he will bless us lot of good luck from there. Cow is our respected like our own progenitor mother in the Hindu Religion. After our death there are many horrible places to cross us to reach in the Haven.

Krishana Astami: 21 August 2011 (04 Bhadra 2068): Krishna Astami is eight days of Bhadra dark fortnight in August. A great ceremony takes place in every Load Krisana astami.

Kushe Aushi:29 August 2011 (12 Bhadra 2068) Hindu's celebrating this festival on the end of August 2011. The Hindu Mythology says that there are four things in which Lord Bishnu stays and those are the Saligram stone, Tulsi plant tree, Pipal Tree and the Kush grass. Kushe Aushi day the priest gives everyone the kush grass so as the lord Bishnu stays in all the houses.
Nepalese tradition and culture holds a lot of respect for a father. He is considered the pillar of strength, high opinion and support of a family. The most auspicious day to honor one's father is Gokarna Aunsi . It falls on the dark fortnight in August.

Haritalika Teej: 31 August 2011 (14 Bhadra 2068) Teej is a Hindu festival celebrated by women. Dancing, folk song and the red color of women's wedding saris dominate the days of Teej. Women observe a fast and flock to Shiva temples where married ones pray for a happy conjugal life and unmarried ones for a good husband.

Indra jatra: 10 September 2011 (24 Badra 2068) The festival of Indra, the God of rain, is observed with great enthusiasm in Kathmandu Valley. The festival lasts for eight days. The chariot of Kumari, the Living Goddess, is taken out in procession through the main streets of Kathmandu. The festival is specially noted for the echoes of drums and dancing feet of the masked dancers almost every evening.

Ghatasthapana 28 September 2011( 11 Ashoja 2011),
(Fulpati 03 October 2011 (16 Ashoja 2068),
Astami 04 October 2011 (17 Ashoja 2068,
Nawami 05 October 2011 (18 Ashoja 2068)
Bijaya Dashami 06 October 2011 (19 Ashoja 2011
Purnima -full moon 11 October 2011(24 Ashoja 2068)
The Dashain festival is the most important festival of the Nepalese. The entire country is in enthusiastic holiday mood at the time of the festival.

Tihar (Deepawali): 26 October 2011 (09 Kartik 2068) is Laxmi Puja,
27 October 2011(10 Kartik 2068) Goru puja
28 October 2011 (11 Kartik 2068) Vaitika
Bhai Tika known as the festival of Lights, Tihar is celebrated for five days. Houses are illuminated at night and special sweets of different varieties are prepared.

Constitution Day: 09 November 2011 (23 Kartrik 2068). The new Democratic Constitution of the Kingdom of Nepal was promulgated on November 9, 1991. Since then, this day is observed as the Constitution Day.

Bala Chaturdashi: 24 November 2011 ( 08 Mungsir 2068) Balachaturdashi is also one of the pious festivals of the Hindus. It falls on the 14thday of dark fortnight of Mungsir (November). The special importance of this festival is to offer obeisance in the commemoration of our deceased ancestors (antecedents). Antecedents are believed to be equal as the God in the Hindu mythology. Mythology explains that; though the God wishes to present us some thing; the antecedents can stop us from obtaining the things. So without appeasing to the antecedents we can’t get any fruitful awards. So that, this is the day of the Balachaturdashi to respect our antecedents. It’s believed that if we scatter the Sadbij on this day in the name of our ancestors their soul will rest nicely in eternal peace in the heaven; then we will be blessed a lot from them to get the happy life. Also it’s believed that if we scatter the Sadbij particles on this day; we will get the virtue of donating as equal to the donation of gold particles.

Vibhaha Panchami: 29 November 2011(13 Mungsir 2068) This is a famous festival of Janakpur in the eastern Terai. The occasion commemorates the marriage of Sita to Ram, one of the most venerated Hindu divinities. It attracts thousands of pilgrims from India to Janaki Temple in Janakpur.

Prithvi Jayanti: This occasion is celebrated in honor of King Prithvi Narayan Shah, the founder of modern Nepal, with a colorful ceremony in front of the Singha Durbar gate in Kathmandu on January 11, 2011 (Poush 27th, 2068).

Basanta Panchami: 28 January 2012 (14 Magha 2068): Basanta Panchami is also one of the very important festivals. It falls in the bright fort night of Magh (January).In this festival Saraswati mother the Goddess of knowledge is worshipped grandly by all specially by the students, teachers and scholars. She is the mother of education and she is believed to be the Guru (teacher) of all kinds of education; and without her worship we can’t get good knowledge. A huge assemblage of devotees takes place in every Saraswati temple of the country to worship the Goddess. This occasion is called the Shree Pnchami as well. Guardians take their small children in the temple and they are given some writing chalks in their hands to start the education by writing on the wall of the temple. Devotees believe that if the children are taken to start their education from the Saraswati temple on this day, they will become a very efficient and educated person of the country in the future.

A grand Saraswati Puja is organized in every school on this day and if there’s no temple in that school the students are taken to take audience of the Goddess some where at out side’s Saraswati temple. After the puja the prasads are distributed there in the school. So this day reminds the students about true value of the education. Sraraswati mother’s picture remains fixed to worship on the wall of every school’s office in Nepal; since she is the Goddess of knowledge; and without her honour the good education can’t be achieved.

Losar: The Sherpas most impressively observe this festival in the month of January - February. They organize folk songs and dances on this occasion. These dances can be seen in Kathmandu, Helambu and other northern regions of Nepal and also at Bouddhanath in Kathmandu.

Maha Shivaratri: 20 February 2012 (08 Phalgun 2068) Shivaratri or the Night of Lord Shiva is observed. It is celebrated in honor of Lord Shiva. A great religious fair tales place in the Pashupatinath Temple and thousands of people from all over Nepal and India flock the temple to worship Lord Shiva.

National Democracy Day: This day is officially observed as Rastriya Prajatantra Divas or National Democracy Day as a mark of respect to the people's Revolution of 1950-51. It generally falls on February 19, 2012 (i.e. Phalgun 7, 2068)

Palgu Purnima (Color festival) 08 March 2012( 25 Palgun 2068) In an ancient time there was a demon King named Hiranya Kashyapu who a very cruel atheist demon. Once when he did a very hard penance, then Lord Bhrama became very happy and offered him an invincible blessing; means couldn’t be killing by either any man or animal; and either in the day or in the night; or either on the sea or on the ground. This was the hard boons, which he had asked with Brahma; and Brahma had offered him this blessing. Since getting this blessing the demon became very proud; because he thought that no on this earth now can kill him. That’s why he was overwhelmed by his proud. Now he thought that there’s no any one powerful person than him in this world. So he was bullying and frightening to all.

In the contrary he had a son named Pralahad who was a great theist and used to worship always to lord Vishnu. He used to think that all the people including him and his father are nothing in front of God Vishnu; he used to believe. If God wishes he could do any thing to any one; and he can give any thing to any one. When Pralhad used to recite the name of lord Vishnu; his father the demon King Hiranya Kashyapu used to get very much enraged always. He ordered his son Pralahad not to spell Vishnu’s name since he is no thing; and he ordered to take his father’s name in it’s instead. But Pralahad never did so; that’s why the demon Hiranya Kashyapu was seen very much infuriated. So he decided to kill his son making many wicked ploys.

Ghodejatra: 22 March 2012(09 Chaitra 2068) Known as the festival of horses, it is one of the most exciting festivals of Kathmandu. Horse race and other sports take place at Tundikhel on this day. In other parts of the city, various deities are carried shoulder-high on palanquin (khat) to the accompaniment of traditional music.

About Newa

About Newa:

The natives of Bhaktapur, Patan and Kathmandu, the Newars, are mainly traders. With a purpose to trade, they are scattered across the country; with greater concentration in the Kathmandu Valley, Banepa, Dhulikhel, Bhojpur, Bandipur and Tansen .
In the Kathmandu
valley, they make 44% of total population. Nationally, however, they make about 5.6% of total population. Despite the small percentage numerically, they contribute significantly in the history, art, architecture and business activities in the country. They are in to the business and government services; business being their main profession. They have negligible representations in the army and police services. Quite a number also have agriculture as their main occupation. These agrarian population are known as

Newars speak their own language, ‘ Newari’ better known as Nepal Bhasa which belongs to Tibeto - Burman family of languages. It has its own scripts and has no linguistic connection to Nepali, Hindi or Sanskrit. The Newari script, the ‘Ranjana lipi’ is exceptional. The Newari literature is also very rich. There are Buddhist and Hindu Newars as well. Like elsewhere in the country, religious syncretism is blended into the culture and tradition.

The written history of the Newars is 2,5000 years old during which they developed their impeccable culture and arts into a great civilization. Newars maintained their unique kingdom even during the various reigns of the Gopala, Kirat, Licchavi and Malla dynasties. The Shahs finally amalgamated the Newar nation state in their unification drives.

They celebrate numerous feasts and festivals throughout the year. Newars havewell defined occupational caste system among themselves. Though some Newars have Mongoloid features, they rather represent a community of different elements mixed together. Besides their rich cultural heritage, festivals, the Newars are impeccable artists and architects.

Among the Newar community, an interesting ancient tradition, known as ‘Ihi or Bel Biha’ , requires that a young girl often 7 or 8 years old, be married to a certain tree called ‘Bel tree’ or to its green fruit called ‘Bel’. The tree and the fruit symbolize a deity called ‘Hiranya Garbha’. Among the deities, Hiranya Garbha is one of the immortals. Thus marriage with ‘Hiranya Garbha’ is considered to be everlasting.

To put it in a nutshell, the Newars, though small in numbers, have a very strong and dominating influence in Nepal’s economy, politics and society in general.

Gurung's music and others


The Gurung have a rich tradition of music and culture. The Gurung have established the system of Rodhi which is a little similar to modern discothèques, where young people meet and share their views in music and dancing. They have their own music and dancing history. Some musical dances such as Ghatu and Chudka are still in existence. In many Gurung villages they are still performing these types of musical dances, which are performed either in a solo or in a groups. Gurung films have been produced which promote these musical dances.


Though only about half a million in number, the Gurung people have made distinct and immense contributions to history and culture and have demonstrated an unwavering commitment to world peace and progress. At present, the majority of Gurungs live in Nepal, where they form one of the many ethnic groups in the country. In Nepal, Gurungs have and continue to play significant roles in all spheres of the country’s development. Outside Nepal, many Gurungs, some in their renowned role as Gurkha soldiers, have lived and been exposed to diverse world cultures in areas as different as Bhutan, Europe, Hong-Kong, India, Japan, Korea, and the United States of America. In Nepal, Gurungs can be divided into two categories, highlanders and lowlanders (though Gurungs are predominantly highlanders). Highlanders living on the slopes of Himalayas still rely heavily on a pastoral and agricultural way of life. They grow rice, wheat, maize, millet and potatoes, normally on terraced mountain slopes. They also derive subsistence from sheep breeding for meat and wool, using fierce mastiffs as sheepdogs.

Many Gurung families, however, have another important source of income — the pensions and salaries of family members who are in the army. Among them are the legendary fighters of the British Gurkha Regiment, who were honored with Victoria Crosses for their bravery. Indeed Gurungs are renowned for their role as Gurkha soldiers, making unparalleled contributions in far flung places such as Europe during World Wars I and II, Burma, Malaysia, the Falklands, Africa, and India. Most recently,[ Gurungs have participated and continue to participate in most United Nations peacekeeping missions throughout the world.

Despite many pushes and pulls of modern day life, Gurungs are increasingly eager to learn, preserve, and celebrate their distinct cultural heritage and practices. This includes not only the various belief systems and cultural practices surrounding festivals, birth, marriage, and death rituals, but also the Gurungs’ own language Tamu Kwei, generally considered a Tibeto-Burman dialect. This focus on Gurung culture continues to provide invaluable insights and inspiration toward the future.

In an ever more interdependent world, Gurungs face the challenge of balancing the preservation of their unique cultural heritage with adaptation to the demands of modern life. The majority of Gurungs still struggle for basic opportunities to improve their livelihoods. As in the past, Gurungs need to invest in opportunities that build on their well-known attributes as people who are hard working, trustworthy, adaptable, and quick-learners in meeting the challenges of modern life in Nepal and beyond its boundaries. Gurungs seek support and guidance from individuals, institutions, and governments. As of 2001, the literacy rate among Gurungs was 59.79%.

Lachhiman Gurung, VC (born 30 December 1917) is a Nepalese recipient of the Victoria Cross, the highest and most prestigious award for gallantry in the face of the enemy that can be awarded to British and Commonwealth forces.

Omendra Gurung is the first Police Community Support Officer in the UK. He is from Nazare (Samrong) village of Lamjung West Nepal.


Their traditional occupation was based on sheepherding, trans-Himalayan trade and farming. In the 19th and early 20th century, many Gurung were recruited to serve in the British and Indian,Gurkha regiments. Today, the Singapore, Police, Brunei reserve units and the French Foreign Legion incorporate ethnically Gurung members. While serving in the British Army they have earned more than 6 Victoria Cross awards. Gurungs are not only restricted to military occupations, many live in urban areas and are employed in all types of labor, business and professional services.

Gurungs trace their descent patrilineally, organized into two groups, or moieties of patrilineal clans.

A noted Gurung tradition is the institution of Rodhi where teenagers form fictive kinship bonds and become Rodhi members to socialize, perform communal tasks, and find marriage partners. But the institution is rarely in existence because of its notoriety in the community. 'Rodhi' literally means weaving and making of baskets.

Generally speaking, the Gurungs are divided into two castes (Jaat in the local tongue); Chaar and the Sohra. Within the Chaar jaat there exists further sub-divisions: namely, Ghale, Ghotane, Lama and Lamichhaney. Their cultural norms and values are greatly influenced by the Tibetans. Tibetan priests perform all rituals, and Chaar caste members are mainly Buddhists.

The Sohra jaat contains 16 castes, however there exist more than 50 further subdivisions, named by their occupations. Their tradition mainly relies on the Pye-taa Lhu-taa. They have their own priests, ghyabrey (or klihbri) and pachyu (or panju) who perform traditional Gurung Dharma rituals.


Centuries of cultural influence from Tibet and its northern neighbours – which adopted the Tibetan culture to a heavy extent resulted in many Gurungs gradually embracing Tibetan Buddhism–particularly among Gurungs in the Manang region – over the centuries, particularly the Nyingma school.Gurungs generally believe in Buddha and bodhisattvas. Adherents also call upon Buddhist lamas to perform infant purification, seasonal agricultural, and funerary rites, as well as house blessing ceremonies.According to the 2001 Nepal Census, 69.03% of the ethnic Gurung were Buddhists, 28.75% were Hindus and 0.66% were Christians. Gurungs practice a form of Tibetan Buddhism heavily influenced by pre-Buddhist Tibetan religion (Bön). Characteristics of this influence include non-Buddhist belief in local deities and in an afterlife in the Land of Ancestors. Other traditional Gurung beliefs include spirit possession, supernatural forest creatures, shapeless wraiths, and spirits of humans that died violently, which populate locales. Gurung villages have their own local deities.

Gurung Dharma describes the traditional shamanistic religion of the Gurung people of Nepal. This religion shares aspects of the Tibetan Bon religion, and is often referred to as "Bön," however there exist significant distinctions between Gurung Dharma and Bön proper. Contemporary shamanistic rituals of Gurung Dharma such as blood offering rituals and ancestor and nature worship are no longer practiced by Tibetan Bönpa. Priestly practitioners of Gurung Dharma include lamas, klihbri, and panju. Shamanistic elements among the Gurungs remain strong and most Gurungs often embrace Buddhist and Bön rituals in all communal activities. Gurung Dharma in its purest form is now virtually extinct, however the religion is preserved to a large extent in Gurung traditions.

History of Gurung


According to the Tamu Pye, the Gurung account of their own history, the very beginning of civilization began at least eight or nine thousand years ago. The Pye recounts the origin of human beings and the materials and tools they used. Tamu priests still use some of these primitive utensils in their rituals. The Pye seems to have remained substantially the same over time.

The Kirati are the oldest inhabitants of Nepal. Soyenbumanu who lived in the land of Hemonta had several children, The second Thoinua, went off towards Japan. The third went towards Thailand, Burma and Cochin-China. The eldest went towards China, then Tibet, and arrived at the northern frontier of India. His name was Munainua. He had ten children: Yoktumba, founder of the Limbus, Yakakowa, founder of the race of Rais, Lunpheba, founder of the Larus, Thanpheba, Suhacepa, founder of the Sunwars (Chepangs, Thamis), Gurupa, founder of the Gurungs, Mankapa, founder of the Magars, Toklokapa, founder of the Thakalis, Tamangs and Sherpas, Thandwas, founder of the Tharus and of the Danwars. For thirty-three generations, the Kirati governed in Kathmandu.

The Pye records the ancestors of the Tamu, their Aji-khe, or Khe-ku, nine male ancestors; Aji-ma, or Ma-i, seven female ancestors; and Aba Kara Klye, including spiritual masters, lords, and ghosts. Tamu Pye tell how the first people lived in Cho Nasa (or Tso Nasa, Tibetan for "Nasa Lake"), a lakeside village, where they planted the first grain, barley. Then they spread to other locales such as Sa Nasa, Dwo Nasa, Si Nasa and Kro Nasa. Kro Nasa is described as being in the south, with hot and fertile climes. The northern Cho Nasa was later rich in religious activity, its inhabitants speaking Tamu-Kwyi. Other Tamu villages were influenced according to their proximity to these two northern and southern villages. The Pye contains stories about the discovery of fire and the making of the first drum among many others.

The origins of the Gurungs, Tamangs of central Nepal seem to be connected with the ancestors of the Kirats, an ancient Mongolian tribal group, who occupied the northern area of the Indo-Gangetic plain and the foothills of the whole Himalayan range which extends from the Kashmir valley to Assam, Nagaland and Manipur.

The earliest civilization of Kathmandu valley was founded by Kirats. They lived in the foothills and the large inner valleys of Nepal. They appear to have fled to the green mountain tops for safety after the overthrow of the Kirat ruler in the first century A.D.

There are many possibilities for the original location of the ancestral Tamu. The ancestors of the Tamu – the Ma-i and Khe-ku seem to have represented seven lakes (female Ma-i) and nine mountain peaks (male Khe-ku). There is a traditional assumption that Cho Nasa, as described in the Pye-ta Lhu-ta, refers to a place in western Tibet, and was ringed by seven lakes and surrounded by three mountain ranges. To the south, in Xinjiang in Western China, north of Tibet, in the Turfan Depression, lay Kro Nasa. As the Tamu migrated from one site to another, they would call the new site by an old name as if it were similar in some aspect (Cf. New York). According to the Tamu Pye, the soul of the dead is believed to go first to Koko-limar-tso, which is under water. In the Qinghai region of China lies a huge lake with an island in the middle called Koko Nor (or Ching Hai). It is similar to Hara Usa Nuur (one of the seven lakes) of western Mongolia, and some near-by places have names which end in "chow", conceivably derived from the Cho Nasa ofalmost six or seven thousand years ago, described in Tamu Pye. Similarly Sa Nasa, Two Nasa, Si Nasa and Kro Nasa could be placed in the Qinghai, Gansu, Sichuan and Yunnan regions of China respectively, running southward to Tibet and then Nepal.

Besides this document, other texts from various sources that tell the origin of Gurungs. One Nepali text from the east of Nepal, from the Rai and Limbu areas, recounts: C.B Ghotane, a Gurung scholar has the following interpretation of Gurung history:

This research was conducted in the 1950s when most Gurungs were still living in their ancient villages with their culture and traditions were well preserved. Today, many Gurungs have urbanized or moved abroad. Gurungs nowadays struggle to preserve their language and culture. While Pignede's research can serve as a source of knowledge, its validity is controversial