As a brief intoduction to our chart of ethnic groups which follows this section, we are giving you a simple outline of the major religious beliefs.
These are not divisions amongst the hill and mountain people because sometimes the religion followed by a specific ethnic group will be a mixture of all major beliefs rather than following one particular code.
The Hindus are great followers of Lord Shiva. The favourite female goddess is Durga or Kali, an avatar of the consort of Shiva. The greatest national festival dedicated to her is Dusserah, a ten day celebration of her slaying of the demon Mahisesura.
The former King of Nepal was believed to be a re-incarnation of Vishnu the Preserver. Vishnu has a vatars in Rama, Madhusudhan, Shyam, Govinda, better known as Krishna - the lover of honey, stealer of butter, pursuer of milkmaids and Lard of all Compassion or Buddha.
Do we confuse you? A great belief in the Tantric arts explains the Nepalese affiliation to female deities. As for the many aspects of a religious faith that leads to a belief in re-incarnation into various other lives; unless we have the good fortune to be spotless in this one; suffice it to quote Lord Krishna himself who according to the Bhagsvad Gita said,
know that many lives Arjuna you and I have lived. I remember all of them
and you none at all"
"That which men call a thousand names, the wise know as one".
Therefore as you meet with our people and listen to their legends be tolerant of their beliefs. They are in essence one with yours. The Buddhists of Nepal are Mahayana Buddhists, followers of the Greater Vechicle. The mountain people usually follow the practices of Lamaistic Tibet. The monks of Nepal are usually of the Nyingmapa order which is the order which was prevalent in Tibet before the great scholar and monk Tsong-Khapa brought in his reforms and founded the Gelugpa sect of monks, who could neither leave their orders nor practise lamaism as married lemas in-charge of a village.