Prayer Profile
The Western Gurung of Nepal

[IMAGE] The more than 116,000 Western Gurung are primarily located in the Kaski and Syangja districts, a central strip of mountainous country in the Western Gurung region of Nepal. The majority of their villages are situated on the mountain slopes at elevations between 1,000 and 2,000 meters (roughly 3,000 to 6,000 feet). Their language, also called Gurung, is a dialect of the main Gurung family.

The origin of the Gurung is unknown; however, they are believed to have come from Tibet to settle in Nepal. Gurung legend tells of a king (Ghale Raja) who ruled in ancient times. In the fifteenth century, Ghale Raja was overthrown by the Nepali king of a neighboring principality. By the sixteenth century the Khasa kings had conquered most of the land of modern day Nepal. Because the Gurung were mercenaries in the Khasa armies, they were highly regarded in the new kingdom. Today, some are enlisted in the Gurkha regiments.

What are their lives like?
Most of the Western Gurung are farmers. Despite the fact that they are hard workers, most of them are very poor. The meager amount of food that they are able to produce is barely enough to sustain them. Their main food sources are millet, maize, and some rice. They also raise soybeans, grains, and string beans. In the northern part of the Lamjung district, the Western Gurung raise sheep and goats. Wool is used to make woven crafts, which are sold in tourist markets.

The Gurung live in villages built high on the ridges. The people live in whitewashed houses with slate roofs. The men usually wear vests and loin cloths. They also sometimes wear kilt-like garments. Women wear colorful wrap around dresses and upper garments over blouses. They also wear nose rings or earrings.

Traditionally, Gurung society is organized into two major class groups: the "four castes" and the "sixteen castes." Lately, differences between these groups have decreased. The Western Gurung are not isolated, but are aware of the customs of the surrounding peoples. They have ongoing relationships with members of the working castes who live in the Gurung villages.

In order to be considered an adult in Gurung society, marriage is essential. Marriages are arranged by both sets of parents while children are quite young. January is the preferred month for a wedding ceremony. A household typically begins as a nuclear family, then grows into an extended family unit. Newlyweds move in with the groom's parents and remain there until their own children have become adults. The man then builds his own house, usually near the home of his parents. Children are taught to be obedient to their parents and respectful of their elders. Younger children learn acceptable social behavior by the older children who care for them.

The Western Gurung have many interesting customs. For example, three days after the birth of an infant, the tuno bandhane ceremony is held. This entails wrapping the newborn baby (after it has been washed in either cow's milk or cow's urine) in a long piece of cloth. The Gurung also love to sing and dance during festive occasions. The young people often gather in the rodi ghar (dance hall) to sing songs that they have written.

What are their beliefs?
Although the Western Gurung are predominantly animists (believe that non-human objects have spirits), they have been strongly influenced by Hinduism. When a Gurung dies, an astrologer consults his horoscope to determine whether the body should be buried or cremated. Then, thirteen days after the death, an image of the deceased is made and dressed in his or her clothes. The priest recites scriptures while the headman of the village and the relatives of the deceased bring offerings to the image.

What are their needs?
The government of Nepal fiercely opposes any form of evangelism. Many Christians have been imprisoned for sharing their faith. There are currently no missions agencies working among these people.

Prayer Points

  • Pray that God will open the doors of Nepal to missionaries.
  • Ask God to encourage and protect the 23 known Western Gurung believers in Nepal.
  • Pray that God will call people who are willing to go to Nepal to bring the Truth to the Western Gurung.
  • Ask God to soften the hearts and open the ears of the Western Gurung to the Gospel.
  • Pray that the Lord will raise up qualified linguists to complete translation of the Word of God into their language.
  • Pray for God's presence and purposes to be revealed among the few Western Gurung Christians.
  • Take authority over the spiritual principalities and powers that are keeping the Gurung bound.
  • Pray that a strong Christian work will be raised up among the Western Gurung by the year 2000.

See also the following related groups:
the Eastern Gurung of Nepal, the Galle Gurung of Nepal, and the Gurung of Bhutan.

Latest estimates from the World Evangelization Research Center.


  • People name: Western Gurung
  • Country: Nepal
  • Their language: Gurung
  • Population: (1990) 102,400
    (1995) 116,600
    (2000) 132,200
  • Largest religion: Ethnic religionist 60%
    Hindu 39.9%
  • Christians: <1%
  • Church members: 23
  • Scriptures in their own language: New Testament
  • Jesus Film in their own language: None
  • Christian broadcasts in their own language: None
  • Mission agencies working among this people: None
  • Persons who have heard the Gospel: 16,400 (14%) Those evangelized by local Christians: 3,500 (3%)
    Those evangelized from the outside: 12,900 (11%)
  • Persons who have never heard the Gospel: 100,200 (86%)
  • Country: Nepal
  • Population: (1990) 19,253,000
    (1995) 21,917,700
    (2000) 24,841,500
  • Major peoples in size order: Nepalese (55.1%)
    Maitili (10.8%)
    Bhojpuri Bihari (7.8%)
    Newar (2.9%)
    Saptari Tharu (2.9%)
  • Major religions: Hindus (87.5%)
    Buddhists (6.9%)
    Muslims (3.5%)
  • Number of denominations: 27

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Bethany World Prayer Center

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