Who is Gurungs?


Gurung is one of the 59 indigenous nationalities in Nepal residing on the foothills of Annapurna, Machhapuchre mountain range. The name Gurung is derived from the Tibetan word ‘Grong’ which means farmers. Gurung call themselves ‘Tamu’ which means horseman in the Tibetan language.  They are densely populated in Kaski, Lamjung, Mustang, Manang, Gorkha, Parbat and Shyanja district. According to 2011 Census, the total population of Gurung is 5, 22,641. They are animists or followers of the Bon-religion, which is Shamanistic and animistic in nature. Their oral text is called Pye (Uthon) and their traditional religious scripture is known as Pye-ta Lhu-ta which contains oral accounts of their traditional history.

According to their legend, the Gurung were a wandering tribe that traversed west across Tibet prior to their entry into Mustang. Their Tibetan Sojourn pre-dates the introduction of Buddhism there in the 7th century as the Gurung religious traditions are basically animistic. They celebrate their feasts and festivals and carry out the ceremonies and practices related to worship, birth, death and marriage in accordance with the Bon and Buddhist religion.

Loshar is the main and biggest festival of Gurung, observed it as a New Year at the end of December, according to the ancient calendar of western Tibet. Their main occupation is animal husbandry, including the raising of sheep and hunting. Lately they have a fame of joining British army and renowned as Gorkha soldier. In terms of their living, Gurung are divided into highlanders and lowlanders. Highlanders are those who are living on the slopes of Himalayas who still rely heavily on a pastoral and agricultural way of life. They resemble that of Tibetans in terms of religious beliefs and cultural practices. The lowlander Gurungs are more influenced by Hindu religion, who have migrated to the plain lands in the Terai. Gurungs have their distinct culture and practices include various belief systems, festivals, birth, marriage, and death rituals.


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