Religion in Nepal

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Religion in Nepal (2011)[1]

  Hinduism (81.3%)
  Buddhism (9.0%)
  Islam (4.4%)
  Kiratism (3.0%)
  Christianity (1.4%)
  Sikhism (0.2%)
  Jainism (0.1%)
  Other (0.6%)
The Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara, gilded bronze. Nepal, 16th century CE

Nepal is primarily Hindu in religion though it is multi-cultural, multi-ethnic, multi-lingual and religiously diverse nation with many religions being practiced here since the ancient times. Nepal is also a secular state and Democratic country according to the constitution of Nepal. The treatment of all religions equally by the state and Freedom of religion is also guaranteed by Nepali constitution. Prior to the movement for democracy in early 2006 and the sacking of King Gyanendra in 2008, the country was officially a Hindu kingdom. Hinduism is the majority religion in the state and profoundly influences its social structure, while Buddhism (Tibetan Buddhism) is practiced by some ethnic groups (for example Newar) in forms which are strongly influenced by Hinduism; Kiratism otherwise is the grassroots native religion of populations belonging to the Kirati ethnicity. Islam, Christianity, Sikhism and Jainism have made inroads and are the religious identity of small populations especially in eastern Nepal


Nepali bride & bridegroom

Nepal has Hindu dharma and Buddhist dharma from the beginning of recorded history in the area though it was originally had only kiratism and other tribal religions, Islam was introduced to the nation around the 11th century with the arrival of Muslim Indians. Christianity was introduced to the country in the 1700s when catholic friars entered the Kathmandu valley and Christian missionaries are active through out the country. Sikhism came to Nepal during 18th century and spread through out Nepal and Jainism came to Nepal during 19th century spread only to kathmandu and some districts of Nepal. Both Sikhism and Jainism are integral part of Nepal now and both constitute a significant role in Nepal identity and cultural aspect though they are Indian born Dharmic religions.

Religious tolerance can be found in royal orders dated Falgun Sudi 12, 1884 V.S. issued by the Hindu Shah monarch Rajendra Bikram Shah under the premiership of Bhimsen Thapa to Buddhist monks in the Kingdom of Nepal:

Our father (i.e. King Girban) has issued a copper plate inscription declaring that nobody shall harass you so long as you observe traditional religious practices (dharma). We hereby reconfirm that order.

— Royal Order to Jhimuryas of Tukucha-Gumba[2]

According to the 2011 census, 81.3% of the Nepalese population was Hindu, 9.0% was Buddhist, 4.4% was Muslim, 3.0% was Kiratist (indigenous ethnic religion), 1.4% was Christian, 0.2% was Sikhs, 0.1% was Jains and 0.6% follow other religions or no religion.[1]

According to the 2001 census, 80.62% percent of Nepalese were Hindu, 10.74% were Buddhist, 4.20% Muslim,[3] 3.60% Kirant (an indigenous religion), 0.45% Christian, and 0.4% were classified as other groups such as Bön religion. In 1971 Hindus were 89.4% of the population, Buddhists 7.5%, and Kirants statistically 0%. However, statistics on religious groups are complicated by the ubiquity of dual faith practices, particularly among Hindus and Buddhists.

The geographical distribution of religious groups in the early 1990s revealed a preponderance of Hindus, accounting for at least 87 percent of the population in every region. The largest concentrations of Buddhists were found in the eastern hills, the Kathmandu Valley, and the central Tarai; in each area about 10 percent of the people were Buddhist. Buddhism was more common among the Newar and Tibeto-Nepalese groups. Among the Tibeto-Nepalese, those most influenced by Hinduism were the Magar, Sunuwar, and Rai peoples. Hindu influence was less prominent among the Gurung, Limbu, Bhote, Tamang and Thakali groups, who continued to employ Buddhist monks for their religious ceremonies. Since both Hinduism as well as Buddhism are Dharmic religions, they usually accept each other's practices and many people practice a combination of both. In 2015, a new constitution was adopted and granted equal rights to all religions in Nepal. However, influencing others to change their religion is prohibited.[4]There has bean political pressure from India's Hindu party's that it should become a Hindu government again but it has received a negative response from the Nepalese government.

The ban on evangelism has been protested by Christian missions groups in the country, because the country has a Christian population that is growing faster than its Muslim, Buddhist or Hindu population. Therefore many Christian missions groups are currently working in secret.

Hinduism in Nepalese culture[edit]

Procession of Nepali Hindu Wedding; Groom puts Sindoor (Vermilion powder) on Bride's head
Procession of Nepali Hindu Wedding; Groom being carried by a helper

It is even believed, according to Nepalese theology that Lord Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva had come to Nepal in the form of deer.[5]

Establishment of Nepal by Ne Muni[edit]

He used to perform religious ceremonies at Teku, the confluence of the Bagmati and Bishnumati rivers.[6] He selected Bhuktaman to be the first king in the line of the Gopal (Cowherd) Dynasty.[6] The Gopal dynasty ruled for 300 years. Yakshya Gupta was the last king of this dynasty. The Kirat Dynasty ruled for 550–700–800 years. The first king of Kirat Yalambar and Gasti was last king of this dynasty. The Licchavi dynasty ruled for 200–350 years. The Malla Dynasty ruled for 400–600 years. The Shah dynasty ruled for 300 years. However, this mythology can be challenged as no such name as Ne exists in Nepali or other Sanskrit-derived languages.

Flag of Nepal[edit]

It is believed that Lord Vishnu had organized the Nepali people and gave them the flag, with the sun and moon as emblems on it.[7]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Statistical Yearbook of Nepal - 2013. Kathmandu: Central Bureau of Statistics. 2013. p. 23. Retrieved 13 December 2015.
  2. ^ Regmi 1987, p. 18.
  3. ^ Becoming an assertive minority
  4. ^
  5. ^ History of Nepal: With an Introductory Sketch of the Country and People of Nepal By Daniel Wright
  6. ^ a b The Ancient Period Archived 2008-05-24 at the Wayback Machine
  7. ^ Gorkhapatra Corporation The Nepalese Perspective