Home    Number 4, 2023

The “Kirat Religion” in Nepal: Quest for a New Religious and Ethnic Identity

[Religiia kiratov v Nepale: poiski novoi etnoreligioznoi identichnosti]

DOI: https://doi.org/10.31857/S0869541523040048


Type of publication: Research Article

Submitted: 10.04.2023

Accepted: 01.07.2023

About author(s)

Liliya Streltsova | https://orcid.org/0000-0001-5729-9136 | liliboridko@gmail.com | St. Petersburg University (7/9 Universitetskaya Emb., St. Petersburg, 199034, Russia)


Kirat religion, traditional beliefs, Nepal, Kiranti, Sanskritisation


The Limbu, Rai Yakha and Sunuwar peoples of eastern Nepal are part of the wider Kiranti ethnic group. Traditionally they used to worship spirits and objects of nature. Rituals were held at temporary altars built from natural materials. The continuity of the tradition was ensured by a complex of oral texts called mundhum, which was transmitted by shamans. In the 20th century, for sociocultural and political reasons, these traditional beliefs underwent major changes. At the beginning of the 20th century, a new reformist doctrine of Satya Hangma (Limbu “true faith”) emerged. Guru Phalgunanda combined traditional beliefs with Hindu ideas, transforming dogmatics and religious practice. At the end of the 20th century political processes began in Nepal, which led to the growth of ethno-religious self-awareness of various groups. For the first time, in the 1991 census, there was included an option to recognize the “Kirat religion”.


Streltsova, L.A. 2023. Religiia kiratov v Nepale: poiski novoi etnoreligioznoi identichnosti [The “Kirat Religion” in Nepal: Quest for a New Religious and Ethnic Identity]. Etnograficheskoe obozrenie 4: 66–83. https://doi.org/10.31857/S0869541523040048 EDN: HIXVTO

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