Kirat Mundhum (also Kirati Mundhum), also called Kiratism or Kirantism or simply Mundhum, is the religion of the Kirati tribes of Nepal: Limbu, Rai, Sunuwar and Yakkha peoples of Nepal, India, Myanmar and now practiced in the UK, China, USA and many other countries. The practice is also known as Kirat Veda, Kirat-Ko Veda or Kirat Ko Ved. According to some scholars, such as Tom Woodhatch, it is a blend of animism (e.g., ancestor worshiping of Sumnima/Paruhang and Yuma Sammang/Tagera Ningwaphumang), Saivism, and Tibetan Buddhism. It is practiced by about 3.1% of the Nepali population. Before it was recognized as a religion on the Nepali census, 36% of the Kirati population claimed to follow the Kirat religion, but when it was recognized this figure increased to 73.9%, a 157% increase in the Nepali Kiratis.
In addition to ancestor worship, Kiranti people also worship Mother Nature.
It has the religious scripture and folk literature of the Kirat people of Nepal. All four Kirats (Limbu, Rai, Sunuwar and Yakkha) have slightly different religious texts. Religious texts means the power of great strength Mundhum in the Limbu language, Mewahang rai call it muddum, Yakka rai as mintum, Sunuwar as mukdum among Kulung rai as ridum and Chamling rai as dum. It covers many aspects of the Kirat culture, customs and traditions that existed before Vedic civilisation in South Asia.
The religious texts for each tribe consists of customs, habits, rituals, traditions, and myths passed down from the Kirati tribe's ancestors. Religious texts serve, in a way, as customary laws which guide Kirats in their daily lives. Their religious texts also distinguishes each Kiranti tribe from other Kirati and non-Kiratis as well.
Kirats practice shamanism and their rituals are mostly related to the worship of mother nature, ancestors, sun, moon, wind, fire and main pillar of house. Almost all sacred rituals, in Rai, are performed by nakchong, the Rai tribal priest. Similarly Limbus have phɛdɑŋmɑ/bɑ, yɛbɑ/mɑ, sɑmbɑ/mɑ to perform rituals accordingly. Their supreme deity Tagera Ningwaphuma: tɑgɛrɑ niŋwɑphumɑ is personified as Yuma Sammang as female and Theba Sammang as male in earthly form. Some Limbus have their own distinct form of worship known as Yuma Sammang is mother of all the Limbus their follower are Yumaism; they venerate a supreme goddess.
All four Kirats celebrate some similar and different festivals throughout the year. Some common festivals are Udhauli, Ubhauli and New year Yele Sambat (Maghe Saktanti).
Sakela is the main festival of Khambu Kirat [Rai], in this festival they worship mother nature and their Ancestor's [who is believed to be staying in their Chulla (fire place build by three stone, each stone has a unique meaning) and garden]. This festival is celebrated twice a year distinguished by two names Ubhauli and Udhauli. Sakela Ubhauli is celebrated during Baisakh Purnima (full moon day, which lies in the month of Baisakh in calendars of the Indian Subcontinent.) and Sakela Udhauli is celebrated during the full moon day in the month of Mangh. In Ubhauli they prey for the goodness of family and good weather for cultivation and in Udhauli they thanks the mother nature and ancestor for their blessing and good harvest. In both Ubhauli and Udhauli they sacrifice a rooster and worship by Ginger, Rice, homemade alcohol, and tree resin (resin is put in the burning coal for fragrance) and conduct a Sakela dance. In this dance they performs all the daily life activity ( example planting rice, harvesting etc.) and also try to copy the behavior of animals and birds which are part of their day to day life. The Limbu Kirat celebrate udhauli Chasok Tangnam on the day of Mangsir Purnima and Ubhauli (Yokwa Tongnam)in the month of Baisakh. Other Kirats (Yakkha and Sunuwars) also celebrate in their own way. Sakela celebration is the prayer to Goddess of Nature for good crops and protection from natural calamities.
The celebration of Sakela is also known as Chandi Nach Murat. On Chandi Nach, they worship Durga, who is known to them as Chandi, or Chandika. (Worship of Durga among the Himalayan Kiratas is arguably written in the Harivamsha Purana.) Durga Puja is still performed by a few Kirants.
- Folk Hinduism
- Religion in Nepal
- Buddhism in Nepal
- Hinduism in Nepal
- Demographics of Nepal
- Limbu language
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