Gurung people

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Gurung people
Regions with significant populations
   Nepal: Lamjung, Pokhara, Ghachok, Kathmandu, Lalitpur, Bhaktapur3.5 Million (15% population of all Nepali)[1]
Gurung, Nepali
70% Buddhist, 28.95% Hindu, 0.66% Christian[2]
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Gurung people
Regions with significant populations
   Nepal: Lamjung, Pokhara, Ghachok, Kathmandu, Lalitpur, Bhaktapur3.5 Million (15% population of all Nepali)[1]
Gurung, Nepali
70% Buddhist, 28.95% Hindu, 0.66% Christian[2]
Selected ethnic groups of Nepal: Bhotia, Sherpa, Thakali; Gurung; Kiranti, Rai, Limbu; Newari; Pahari; Tamang

The Gurung people, also called Tamu, are an ethnic group from different parts of Nepal.[3] Gurungs, like other east Asian featured peoples of Nepal such as Sherpa, Tamang, Thakali, Magar, Manaaggi, Mustaaggi, and Walunggi, are the indigenous people of Nepal's mountain valleys. They live primarily in the Gandaki zone, specifically Lamjung, Kaski, Mustang, Dolpa, Tanahu, Gorkha, Parbat and Syangja districts as well as the Manang district around the Annapurna mountain range. Some live in the Baglung, Okhaldhunga and Taplejung districts and Machhapuchhre as w ell. Small numbers are believed to be living in India's West Bengal and Sikkim, as well as Bhutan.

According to the 2013 census there are 3.5 Million Gurungs in Nepal [1] of which 1.1 Million speak the Gurung language.


The Gurung have a rich tradition of music and culture. The Gurung have established the system of Rodhi which is a little similar to modern discothèques, where young people meet and share their views in music and dancing. They have their own music and dancing history. Some musical dances such as Ghatu and Chudka are still in existence. In many Gurung villages they are still performing these types of musical dances, which are performed either solo or in a groups. Gurung films have been produced which promote these musical dances.

Gurkha recruitment[edit]

Shri Lil Bahadur Gurung was the first Gorkha to become Director of Music, Military School of Music,Pachmarhi (Madhya Pradesh) of the Indian Army. He has composed a lot of martial music for the Indian Army. He is the first Indian to get a Licentiate in band conducting from Trinity College of Music, London. Presently he is settled down in Jabalpur, India and enjoying his retired life.

Gurung recipients of the Victoria Cross, the highest award for gallantry in the face of the enemy that can be awarded to British and Commonwealth forces, include Lachhiman Gurung, VC (1917–2010) and Bhanbhagta Gurung VC (1921–2008, also known as Bhanbhakta Gurung), who received it for his actions while serving as a rifleman with the 3rd Battalion of the 2nd Gurkha Rifles in Burma during the Second World War.


Elderly Gurung woman hugging a goat.

Their traditional occupation was based on sheep herding, trans-Himalayan trade and farming. In the 19th and early 20th century, many Gurung were recruited to serve in the British and Indian Gurkha regiments. Today, the Singapore Police, Brunei reserve units and the French Foreign Legion incorporate ethnically Gurung members. While serving in the British Army they have earned more than 6 Victoria Cross awards. Gurungs are not only restricted to military occupations, many live in urban areas and are employed in all types of labor, business and professional services.

Gurungs trace their descent patrilineally, organized into three groups, or moieties of patrilineal clans.

A noted Gurung tradition is the institution of Rodhi where teenagers form fictive kinship bonds and become Rodhi members to socialize, perform communal tasks, and find marriage partners. But the institution is rarely in existence because of its notoriety in the community. 'Rodhi' literally means weaving and making of baskets.

Generally speaking, the Gurungs are divided into two castes (Jaat in the local tongue); four and the sisteen. Within the tin Jaat there exists further sub-divisions: namely, ghale Ghotane, Lama and Lamichhaney. However these are not an original jaats of Gurung they were given by Aryen (Hindu) after they arrived in Nepal. Their proper jaats are 'Kown, Lam, Lem. Each of these castes has their sub-castes of own; Kown has: Lhyege Kown, Jhobro Kon, Takrey Kown, Khelag Kown and many others; Lam: Painghy Lam, Tamee Lam, Cahaiber Lam, Tuchai Lam, Kupchai Lam and many others. They have their own sub-castes including Rilde, Ghaldu, and Tamja. The cultural norms and values of three jaads are greatly influenced by the Tibetans. Tibetan priests perform all rituals, and tin caste gurung are mainly Buddhists. However nauw jaat gurung did not change their ancient religion bonism and bon priest performs all rituals for them. Gurungs are very homogenous in society, whereby a Gurung is typically married to another Gurung people. This practice has existed for a long time without contention and to this day, this practice is still very ubiquitous, though less heightened.

Despite Nepali's being a South-Asian, Gurung people bears similar physical traits like Chinese, Mongoloid or Tibetans. Typically, a Gurung person have dark-brown almond eyes, double eye-lids, dark hair, high cheekbones, full lips, small jawline, light skin, and a fairly elevated nose-bridge.

A study has noted that a Gurkha in Singapore or Great Britain would typically support up to five relatives from home, despite already having to support their immediate family members. The foreign remittance of the Gurkha's pension fund as well as disposable income has benefited Nepal's Economy to some extent.

A notable Gurung person, is Designer Prabal Gurung, a Singapore-born, Nepali-American Fashion Designer. His father was a Gurkha soldier who served in Singapore.


Centuries of cultural influence from Tibet and its northern neighbours – which adopted the Tibetan culture to a heavy extent resulted in many Gurungs gradually embracing Tibetan Buddhism–particularly among Gurungs in the Manang region – over the centuries, particularly the Nyingma school.[4] Gurungs generally believe in Buddha and bodhisattvas. Adherents also call upon Buddhist lamas to perform infant purification, seasonal agricultural, and funerary rites, as well as house blessing ceremonies.[citation needed] According to the 2001 Nepal Census, 69.03% of the ethnic Gurung were Buddhists, 28.75% were Hindus and 0.66% were Christians.[2] Gurungs practice a form of Tibetan Buddhism heavily influenced by pre-Buddhist Tibetan religion (Bön). Characteristics of this influence include non-Buddhist belief in local deities and in an afterlife in the Land of Ancestors. Other traditional Gurung beliefs include spirit possession,[5] supernatural forest creatures, shapeless wraiths, and spirits of humans that died violently, which populate locales.[citation needed] Gurung villages have their own local deities.[6]

Gurung Dharma describes the traditional shamanistic religion of the Gurung people of Nepal. This religion shares aspects of the Tibetan Bön religion, and is often referred to as "Bön," however there exist significant distinctions between Gurung Dharma and Bön proper. Contemporary shamanistic rituals of Gurung Dharma such as blood offering rituals and ancestor and nature worship are no longer practiced by Tibetan Bönpa.[6] Priestly practitioners of Gurung Dharma include lamas, klihbri, and panju.[7] Shamanistic elements among the Gurungs remain strong and most Gurungs often embrace Buddhist and Bön rituals in all communal activities.[8] Gurung Dharma in its purest form is now virtually extinct, however the religion is preserved to a large extent in Gurung traditions.

Notable Gurung people[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Government of Nepal.National Planning Commission Secretariat.Central Bureau of Statistics. National Population and Housing Census 2011 (National Report), November 2012. Kathmandu. 
  2. ^ a b Dr. Dilli Ram Dahal (2002-12-30). "Chapter 3. Social composition of the Population: Caste/Ethnicity and Religion in Nepal". Government of Nepal, Central Bureau of Statistics. Retrieved 2013-12-05. 
  3. ^ "Ethnohistory of Gurung People". Retrieved 5 June 2013. 
  4. ^ McHugh, Ernestine (2001). Love and Honor in the Himalayas: coming to know another culture. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press. p. 32. ISBN 0-8122-1759-4. 
  5. ^ John Thayer Hitchcock & Rex L. Jones, ed. (1976). Spirit possession in the Nepal Himalayas. Vikas. ISBN 0-7069-0438-9. 
  6. ^ a b Mumford, Stanley Royal (1989). Himalayan Dialogue: Tibetan Lamas and Gurung Shamans in Nepal. Madison, Wisconsin: University of Wisconsin Press. pp. 30–32. ISBN 0-299-11984-X. 
  7. ^ von Fürer-Haimendorf, Christoph (1985). Tribal populations and cultures of the Indian subcontinent 2 (7). Brill. pp. 137–8. ISBN 90-04-07120-2. Retrieved 2011-04-02. 
  8. ^ Robert Gordon Latham (1859). Descriptive Ethnology I. London: John Van Voorst, Paternoster Row. pp. 80–82. 

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]