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Gurung people

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Gurung Ghatu Dance in Tamu losar festival
Total population
c. 795,290[citation needed]
Regions with significant populations
Manang, Lamjung, Mustang, Gorkha, Kaski, Tanahun, Syangja and Dolpa
 Nepal543,790 (2021)[1]
 India139,000 (above)[2]
 United Kingdom28,700[citation needed]
 Japan16,800[citation needed]
 Malaysia15,200[citation needed]
 Australia12,800[citation needed]
 USA11,300[citation needed]
 UAE7,500[citation needed]
 Canada4,500[citation needed]
 Korea3,300[citation needed]
 Hong Kong2,800[citation needed]
Nepali (Lingua Franca), Gurung (Tamu kyi, Manangi, Mustangi, Loki), Seke
Buddhism (62.7), Bon (2.32%), Christianity (2.12%) Hinduism (32.86%) [3]
Related ethnic groups
Tibetan, Qiang, Tamang, Magar, Thakali, Sherpa
Gurung people
Tibetan name

Gurung (exonym; Nepali: गुरुङ) or Tamu (endonym; Gurung: ཏམུ) are an ethnic group living in the hills and mountains of Gandaki Province of Nepal.[4] Gurung people predominantly live around the Annapurna region in Manang, Mustang, Dolpo, Kaski, Lamjung, Gorkha, Parbat,Tanahun and Syangja districts of Nepal.

They are also scattered across India in Sikkim, Assam, Delhi, West Bengal (Darjeeling area) and other regions with a predominant Nepali diaspora population.[5] They speak the Sino-Tibetan Gurung language and most of them practice the Bon religion alongside Tibetan Buddhism and Hinduism. Gurung has a Sino-Tibetan dialect cluster that is a part of the Tamangic family. The people who speak them are ethnically Tamang, but their languages are too poorly known to be sure. Genetically, Tamang was classified by Shafer as belonging to Gurung Branch of the Bodish Section of the Bodic Division of Tibeto-Burman (1955). Gurungs are highly influenced by Magar civilisation of Nepal specifically cultural dances and dresses. The Bakhu is the cultural dress for Gurungs.

The origin of the Gurung people can be traced back to Qiang people located in Qinghai, China. As a result of foreign and Korean Christian missionary activities, some Gurung people have also converted to Christianity.[6]

Gurung caste[edit]

The Gurungs had no caste system and within themselves.[clarification needed] Yet for several centuries the Gurungs and other hill peoples have been mixing with the caste cultures of Indo-Aryan and they have been influenced by them in various ways. As a result, Gurung caste system has been fragmented into two parts: the four-caste (Plighi/ Char-jat) and sixteen-caste (Kuhgi/ Sora-jat) systems. Within there are more than thirty named clans.[7]

"Bakhkhu" is one of the traditional clothing items worn by the Gurung community. Crafted from sheep's wool, Bakhkhu serves as a versatile garment, offering protection against cold and rain, while also doubling as a mat and a sleeping cover. This traditional attire reflects the Gurung people's profound cultural connection to their environment and their sustainable practices, which include sheep pastoralism. Read more

Geographical distribution[edit]


At the time of the 2011 Nepal census, 798,658 people (2.97% of the population of Nepal) identified as Gurung. The proportions of Gurung people by province was as follows:

The proportions of Gurung people were higher than national average in the following districts:


Caste (jāt) Traditional occupation Clan titles (kul) or surnames (thar) Notes
1. Char-Jaat

Four Clans चार-जात (45%)

Buddhist family and Buddhist monk Tamu: Kle, Lam, Kon, and Lem
Nepali: Ghale, Lama, Ghotaney and Lamichane
Buddhist priests and family priests of mostly from Lamjung and Tanahu
2. Sorajat

Sixteen Clans सोराजत (65%)

Farmers and shepherd Tamu: Pachyu, Ghyapri
Nepali: Paju, Ghyabring
Buddhist family from Syangja and Kaski

Roughly two third of Gurung follow Buddhism ,while around one third follow Hinduism and around 2 % follow Christianity.[9]The Gurung Dharma include Bon Lam (Lama), Ghyabri (Ghyabring) and Pachyu (Paju).[10] Lamas perform Buddhist rituals as needed, such as in birth, funeral, other family rituals (such as in Domang, Tharchang) and in Lhosar. Lamas perform Buddhist ceremonies primarily in Manang, Mustang, and elsewhere. Some Gurung villages have kept remnants of a pre-Buddhist form of the ‘Bon' religion, which flourished over two thousand years ago across much of Tibet and Western China. They have also kept aspects of an even older shamanic belief system that served as a counter to the Bon religion.[11]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ National Statistics Office (2021). National Population and Housing Census 2021, Caste/Ethnicity Report. Government of Nepal (Report).
  2. ^ "Rai-Peoplegrouporg".
  3. ^ Central Bureau of Statistics (2014). Population monograph of Nepal (PDF) (Report). Vol. II page 56. Government of Nepal.
  4. ^ Ragsdale, T.A. (1990). "Gurungs, Goorkhalis, Gurkhas: speculations on a Nepalese ethno-history" (PDF). Contributions to Nepalese Studies. 17 (1): 1–24.
  5. ^ Central Bureau of Statistics (2012). National Population and Housing Census 2011 (PDF). Kathmandu: Government of Nepal
  6. ^ Central Bureau of Statistics (2014). Population monograph of Nepal (PDF) (Report). Vol. II. Government of Nepal.
  7. ^ Macfarlane, Resources and Population. A Study of the Gurungs of Nepal (1976, 2nd edn., 2003, Ratna Pustak, Kathmandu).
  8. ^ "2011 Nepal Census, Social Characteristics Tables" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2023-03-14. Retrieved 2019-09-06.
  9. ^ "Population Monograph, please go to page 56 to see Percentage of Buddhist in Nepali census" (PDF). Retrieved May 2, 2024.
  10. ^ von Fürer-Haimendorf, Christoph (1985). Tribal populations and cultures of the Christianity from Thai. Vol. 2. Brill Publishers. pp. 137–8. ISBN 90-04-07120-2. Retrieved 2011-04-02.
  11. ^ Macfarlane, A. 1976. Resources and Population: A Study of the Gurungs of Nepa1. New York, and Melbourne: Cambridge University Press Cambridge, London.

Further reading[edit]

  • P. T. Sherpa Kerung, Susan Höivik (2002). Nepal, the Living Heritage: Environment and Culture. University of Michigan: Kathmandu Environmental Education Project.
  • William Brook Northey (1998). The Land of the Gurkhas, or, The Himalayan Kingdom of Nepal. Asian Educational Services. ISBN 81-206-1329-5.
  • Murārīprasāda Regmī (1990). The Gurungs, Thunder of Himal: A Cross Cultural Study of a Nepalese Ethnic Group. University of Michigan: Nirala Publications.

External links[edit]