Gurung people

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Gurung people
Regions with significant populations
   Nepal: Lamjung, Pokhara,, Bhuka, Kathmandu, Lalitpur, Bhaktapur 3.5 Million (15% population of all Nepali)[1]
Gurung, Nepali
Buddhist, Hindu[2]
Selected ethnic groups of Nepal: Bhotia, Sherpa, Thakali; Gurung; Kiranti Sunuwar , Rai, Limbu; Newari; Pahari; Tamang

The Gurung people, also called Tamu, are an ethnic group from different parts of Nepal.[3] Gurungs, like Sherpa, Tamang, Thakali, Magar, Manaaggi, Mustaaggi, and Walunggi, are the indigenous people of Nepal's mountain valleys. They live primarily in the Gandaki zone, specifically Lamjung, Kaski, Mustang, Dolpa, Tanahu, Gorkha, Parbat and Syangja districts as well as the Manang district around the Annapurna mountain range. Some live in the Baglung, Okhaldhunga and Taplejung districts and Machhapuchhre as w ell. Small numbers are believed to be living in India's Darjeeling district, Kolkata, Assam, Manipur and Sikkim and as well as Bhutan.

According to the 2013 census there are 3.5 Million Gurungs in Nepal[1] of which 1.1 Million speak the Gurung language.


Amrit Gurung, soloist of Nepathya

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 solo or in a groups. Gurung films have been produced which promote these musical dances.

Gurkha recruitment[edit]

Shri Lil Bahadur Gurung was the first Gorkha to become Director of Music, Military School of Music, Pachmarhi (Madhya Pradesh) of the Indian Army. He has composed a lot of martial music for the Indian Army. He is the first Indian to get a Licentiate in band conducting from Trinity College of Music, London. Presently he is settled down in Jabalpur, India and enjoying his retired life.

Gurung recipients of the Victoria Cross, the highest award for gallantry in the face of the enemy that can be awarded to British and Commonwealth forces, include Lachhiman Gurung, VC (1917–2010) and Bhanbhagta Gurung VC (1921–2008, also known as Bhanbhakta Gurung), who received it for his actions while serving as a rifleman with the 3rd Battalion of the 2nd Gurkha Rifles in Burma during the Second World War.


Elderly Gurung woman hugging a goat.

Their traditional occupation was based on sheep herding, trans-Himalayan trade and farming. In the 19th and early 20th century, many Gurung were recruited to serve in the 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 job, business and professional services.

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.

A notable Gurung person, is designer Prabal Gurung, a Singapore-born, Nepali-American Fashion Designer. His father was a Gurkha soldier who served in Singapore.


They are Buddhists and large minority of Hindus. 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.[4]

[5] Priestly practitioners of Gurung Dharma include lamas, ghyabri (klehpri), and pachyu (paju).[6] Shamanistic elements among the Gurungs remain strong and most Gurungs often embrace Buddhist and Bön rituals in all communal activities.[7]

Notable Gurung people[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Government of Nepal.National Planning Commission Secretariat.Central Bureau of Statistics. National Population and Housing Census 2011 (National Report), November 2012 (PDF). Kathmandu. 
  2. ^ Dr. Dilli Ram Dahal (2002-12-30). "Chapter 3. Social composition of the Population: Caste/Ethnicity and Religion in Nepal". Government of Nepal, Central Bureau of Statistics. Retrieved 2013-12-05. 
  3. ^ "Ethnohistory of Gurung People" (PDF). Retrieved 5 June 2013. 
  4. ^ McHugh, Ernestine (2001). Love and Honor in the Himalayas: coming to know another culture. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press. p. 32. ISBN 0-8122-1759-4. 
  5. ^ Mumford, Stanley Royal (1989). Himalayan Dialogue: Tibetan Lamas and Gurung Shamans in Nepal. Madison, Wisconsin: University of Wisconsin Press. pp. 30–32. ISBN 0-299-11984-X. 
  6. ^ von Fürer-Haimendorf, Christoph (1985). Tribal populations and cultures of the Indian subcontinent 2 (7). Brill Publishers. pp. 137–8. ISBN 90-04-07120-2. Retrieved 2011-04-02. 
  7. ^ Robert Gordon Latham (1859). Descriptive Ethnology I. London: John Van Voorst, Paternoster Row. pp. 80–82. 

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]