KATMANDU, NEPAL, April 8, 2021 (Hinduism Today, by Nikki Thapa): Three years ago I left that job to pursue my own interests in running my website, askmeaboutnepal.com, and Healing Hands Nepal, my nonprofit organization, both of which allowed me to travel extensively in Nepal. As I traveled, my interest in Hinduism increased day by day with new discoveries about Nepal’s variety of customs, temples, culture and traditions. When I suggested to the editors that I report on these experiences, they countered with the proposal that I survey Nepal’s youth, ages 18 to 28, as a Hinduism Today article had done two years ago in India. One thing that became immediately clear is that despite being next-door neighbors and sharing the ancient traditions, being a Hindu in Nepal is not the same as being one in India. For one thing, at just four percent Muslim and one percent Christian, politics and religion in Nepal are not so intertwined as they are in India. Ninety-three percent of Nepalese are Hindus, Buddhists or Kiratist (an indigenous religion), and these religions remain intertwined in various ways, including overlapping Deities and in the celebration of festivals. Religious tolerance is so strong in Nepal that any religion’s festivals are equally celebrated by everyone.
We discovered many commonalities among the youth we spoke with. Nearly all have parents who are fairly religious, maintain a home shrine where they perform daily worship and engage a designated family priest who frequently comes to perform various pujas. None miss out on the popular festivals, which provide great opportunities for celebrating with family and friends, augmented today with the posting of hundreds of photos of the events on social media. Many youth express an aversion to the social divisions within the country and to certain practices. Just about everyone had watched at least some of the Ramayana and Mahabharata TV series as children. In this meat-eating country, there was a solitary vegetarian among those we interviewed.
To read several interesting insights from this generation balancing the nation’s religious and cultural heritage with the impact of modern philosophies and issues, see “source” above.