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%)
  Other (0.8%)
The Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara, gilded bronze. Nepal, 16th century CE

Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal is a predominantly Hindu by religion nearly about 82% although it is multi-cultural, multi-ethnic, multi-lingual and multi-religious nation. Shiva has been regarded as guardian deity of Nepal. Nepal is the home to world famous lord Shiva pashupatinath temple where all Hindus globally visit the holy place for pilgrimage and it is also birth place of Goddess Sita and lord Buddha according to Hindu mythology. Nepal is a secular state and also it become Democratic country by 2008 according to it's constitution but "however Hinduism has been considered as State religion of Nepal due to labelling of Secularism in the constitution which clearly state's "Secularism in Nepal means protection of Sanatan Dharma I.e Hinduism culture while ensuring cultural and religious freedom". Cow has been declared National animal of Nepal which is holy animal in Sanatan Dharma I.e Hinduism and government has ban cow slaughter and it is illegal by law. Freedom of religion is also guaranteed by Nepali constitution. Conversion to other religion is not allowed and it is illegal according to constitution because conversion of another religion is prohibited by law. Prior to the movement for democracy in early 2006 and the sacking of King Gyanendra in 2008, the country was officially a Hindu kingdom but still constitution uphold to protect and foster Hinduism culture observed majorly by Nepali Hindus. Hinduism is the majority religion in the state and profoundly influences its social structure and politics, 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 throughout the country. Sikhism came to Nepal during the 18th century and spread throughout Nepal and Jainism came to Nepal during the 19th century spread only to Kathmandu and some districts of Nepal. Both Sikhism and Jainism are an 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, 0.1% was Sikhs, 0.1% was Jains and 0.7% 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 been 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.


Population Trends for Major Religious Groups in Nepal
Religion Population

% 1952/1954


% 1961


% 1971


% 1981


% 1991


% 2001


% 2011

Hinduism 88.87% 87.69% 89.39% 89.50% 86.51% 80.62% 81.34%
Buddhism 8.59% 9.25% 7.50% 5.32% 7.78% 10.74% 9.04%
Islam 2.54% 2.98% 3.04% 2.66% 3.53% 4.20% 4.39%
Kirat N/A N/A N/A N/A 1.72% 3.60% 3.04%
Christianity N/A N/A 0.02% 0.03% 0.17% 0.45% 1.41%
Others/Unspecified 0.01% 0.07% 0.05% 2.49% 0.28% 0.39% 0.78%

Religion in Nepal (2011 Census)
Religion Population Percentage
Hinduism 21,551,492 81.34%
Buddhism 2,396,099 9.04%
Islam 1,162,370 4.39%
Kirat 807,169 3.04%
Christianity 375,699 1.41%
Prakriti (Nature Worship) 121,982 0.46%
Bon 13,006 0.04%
Jainism 3,214 0.01%
Bahá'í 1,283 0.01%
Sikhism 609 0.01%
Others/Unspecified 61,581 0.23%
Total 26,494,504 100%

Hinduism in Nepalese culture[edit]

See : Hinduism in Nepal

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.[6]

Establishment of Nepal by Ne Muni[edit]

King Muni used to perform religious ceremonies at Teku, the confluence of the Bagmati and Bishnumati rivers.[7] He selected Bhuktaman to be the first king in the line of the Gopal (Cowherd) Dynasty.[7] The Gopal dynasty ruled for 300 years. Yakshya Gupta was the last king of this dynasty. The Kirat Dynasty ruled for 550–800 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.[8]

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. ^ "Population Monograph of Nepal Volume II (Social Demography)" (PDF).
  6. ^ History of Nepal: With an Introductory Sketch of the Country and People of Nepal By Daniel Wright
  7. ^ a b The Ancient Period Archived 2008-05-24 at the Wayback Machine
  8. ^ Gorkhapatra Corporation The Nepalese Perspective