Religions of Nepal

  • May 17, 2019
  • Rajesh Thapaliya
  • 121

Nepal is a beautiful blend of religions and cultures that have coexisted here for hundreds and thousands of years. According to the country’s 2011 census, more than 80% of the country follow Hinduism, followed by Buddhism, Islam, Kirat, and other religions. Although these religions have their unique identities of their own, they have helped create a serene harmony in Nepal. This is especially obvious in Kathmandu Valley, where people from different cultural and social backgrounds get the opportunity to observe and enjoy other wonderful traditions.

Table of Contents

Hinduism

As the most followed religion in the country, Hinduism has a great influence on the social practices of the country. These influence can be seen through the abundance of temples, religious shrines, and festivities. The most popular Hindu festivals in Nepal – Dashain, Tihar, Chhath, and Mahashivaratri – are all national holidays. Dashain commemorates the majesty of Goddess Durga whereas, Tihar is a 5-day festival which worships the bond between brothers and sisters. As of the Hindu pilgrimage sites, Pashupatinath is a major pilgrimage site for Hindus from all over the world. Another such site is Changunarayan, considered to be the oldest temple in the country. Similarly, Muktinath, Halesi Mahadev, Taleju, and Krishna Temple are some other of the most famous Hindu religious hubs in the country. Clearly, Hinduism has continued to flourish in this country since time immemorial.

Bhairava Statue
Bhairava Statue in Kathmandu Darbar Square

Buddhism

Nepal is the birthplace of the founder of Buddhism, Lord Gautam Buddha. The son of a king in Lumbini, he grew up surrounded by material wealth but gave it all up to pursue and find enlightenment. Buddhism has spread throughout Nepal and the rest of Asia and now has become a major world religion. Many ethnic groups that follow Buddhism have helped preserve Buddhist culture through their artwork and rituals.

In Nepal, the UNESCO world heritage sites of Swayambhunath and Boudhanath are some of the holy Buddhist sites located in the Kathmandu Valley. Lumbini is another such UNESCO world heritage site outside Kathmandu. Similarly, Muktinath, Tengboche, Braga, and Pung Gyen monastery are some of the esteemed Buddhist sites outside Kathmandu.

Bouddhanath
Bouddhanath Stupa

Islam

The third most practised religion in Nepal is Islam, with around 4.4% of the total population. Most of them live in Terai, the southern region of Nepal. Ramadan is one of the main parts of Islam, a month of fasting that is observed every year. They break this fast at the end of the month by celebrating Eid al-Fitr, when family and friends get together to eat delicious traditional delicacies. Many invite their non-Muslim neighbours and friends to partake of the food and culture and mosques give food and clothes to the needy. This shows that despite having a smaller population, Muslim people have a positive impact on Nepali society and are an important part of our overall national identity.

Kirat

Kirat is the fourth most-practised religion in Nepal. It is both an ancient religion followed by Limbu and Rai ethnic communities who are the natives of Nepal. Their ancient religious text is called the Mundhum, which consists of worshipping nature and shamanistic practices. Their year is divided into Ubhauli (summer or upward) and Udhauli (winter or downward) halves and their main festival is Sakela which is celebrated once in each half, first to pray to mother nature for a good harvest and then to give thanks for it. Wearing beautiful traditional attires, people of all ages take part in the Sakela ritual dance after a Kirat priest has conducted the prayers and worship.

Christianity

Even though Christianity is the most popular religion in the world, it is only the fifth most-followed religion in Nepal. The 2011 census shows that 1.4% of the population or 375,699 people are adherents of the religion in Nepal. Nepal is said to be one of the fastest growing population of Christians in the world. Christmas and English New Year sure are two of the trendiest festivals in Nepal. On the eves of these festivities, major streets of Kathmandu are lined with lights and people go out to celebrate and enjoy the holiday.

Other

Other religions in Nepal consist of Sikhism, Jainism, and Bön religions. And while they are not as common as the other religions, their adherents generally practice openly and without unwanted interference from other communities. Regardless of the festivals, it is a certain hat Nepal offers a harmonious environment for all religions to thrive in Nepal.

Conclusion

Nepal is an example of how being ethnically, religiously, and culturally diverse adds to the colourfulness and beauty of a place. Moreover, such diversity also helps people to be more open and curious – elevating our views, expanding our hearts, and spreading harmony. A number of religions and millions of followers, yet Nepal welcomes everyone with open arms and a bright smile.

Rajesh Thapaliya

Rajesh Thapaliya

Namaste! I am Rajesh, Nepal travel blogger providing Nepal travel tips to the travellers who are planning to travel Nepal and know about Nepal.

I am a tourism service provider in Nepal So far, I have been to the Nepalese Himalayan base camps as a tour leader and collected lots of information about the Nepalese Himalayas. You can find my experiences in my travel blogs so it may make a lot easier you to travel to Nepal.

You may find me on Instagram (@razesh.razz) and Twitter (@thapaliyaRazesh). I have worked very hard to be in this stage after my high school and dedicated my experiences to the people who would like to know about Nepal and Nepal travel.

I inspire travellers to travel to Nepal by providing information and recent news about Nepal. If you like my blogs and think that my blogs are really helpful to make you easier Nepal travel plan, please contact me at any time and ask questions about any confusion and follow me on my social profiles.

How I started writing

I was born in the countryside and finished my high school from there. After my high school, I came in Kathmandu and started to work as a trekking porter then I improved my English and started to work as a trekking guide at the same time I was a university student. While I was working as a tour leader, I visited all the Himalayan base camps in Nepal and collected lots of information about these areas. So my work inspired me to write and provide information about travelling Nepal to the visitors.