In Nepal, religion is not just a set of beliefs and accompanying rituals handed down from generation to generation; rather it is a complex intermingling of traditions, festivals, faiths and doctrines that have permeated every strata of Nepalese Society in such a way as to become the very heartbeat of the nation. Nepal is famous, as the world’s only Hindu Kingdom. However, it is an intricate and beautiful tapestry formed by the interweaving of Hinduism, Buddhism and other beliefs. Religious tolerance and harmony such as is found in Nepal, is perhaps a unique example to the world.
Religions in Nepal are:
Hinduism has a basic trinity of three gods-Brahma the Creator, Vishnu the Preserver and Shiva the Destroyer. Two of Vishnu’s other incarnations- Rama and Krishna-are especially important to the Hindus. Rama and Krishna are the heroes of the classic Hindu epics Ramayana and Mahabharat respectively. Another widely venerated god is Ganesh, one of the sons of Shiva. Nepal’s many Hindu festivals are dedicated to dozens of different deities and are participated by all Hindus, as well as Buddhists.
Beliefs and practices of Buddhism in Nepal date back to the time of its founder, Prince Siddhartha Gautam who was born in Lumbini in the southern Terai region of the country in about 543 B.C. Tibetans and Newars mainly follow Buddhism. The Bhotia peoples of northern Nepal are essentially Tibetan Buddhist. Buddhism is based on conceptuality of attaining nirvana and for the Buddhist people “Baisakh Purnima” is the most essential day as on this day Lord Buddha was born, enlightened and died.
Both Hinduism and Buddhism in Nepal have been strongly influenced by the beliefs and practices of Tantrism. “Tantra” is a Sanskrit word referring to the basic warp of threads in weaving. Difficult to define due to its varying types and forms, Trantrism is a religion of moral percepts, meditation, yoga, mantras and a philosophy that believes in interwovenness of all things. Tantrism has greatly influenced Nepalese Buddhism though.
Islam and Christianity
In addition to Hinduism, Buddhism, and Trantrism, a very small minority of Nepalese adheres to Islam and Christianity. Muslims and Christians believe and practice in much the same way as their counterparts in the western and other countries.