The Galle Gurung of Nepal
The origin of the Gurung is unknown; however, they are believed to have emigrated from Tibet to Nepal. Gurung legend tells of a king, Ghale Raja, who ruled in ancient times. In the 1400's, Ghale Raja was overthrown by the Nepali king of a neighboring principality. By the 1500's, the Khasa kings had conquered most of the land of modern day Nepal.
Because the Galle Gurung worked as mercenaries in the Khasa armies, they were highly regarded in the new kingdom. Today, their reputation as valiant soldiers continues and many are enlisted in the Gurkha regiments (Nepalese Army).
What are their lives like?
The Gurung live in villages built high on the ridges. The whitewashed houses are loosely clustered together. Houses belonging to related families tend to be built alongside each other. While most of the Gurung have remained in the villages, some of the wealthier members have moved into the towns and cities.
The Gurung men usually wear bhotos (vests) and dhotis (loin cloths). They also sometimes wear jamas, which are kilt-like garments. The women typically wear colorful fariyas (wrap around dresses) and ghaleks (upper garments) over blouses. They also enjoy wearing nose rings or earrings.
In order to be considered an adult in Gurung society, marriage is essential. Marriages are usually arranged by both sets of parents while children are quite young. January is the preferred month for a wedding ceremony. A "bride price" consisting of gold jewelry is given to the bride at the wedding ceremony.
The basic household unit of the Gurung changes over time. 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.
The Galle 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, a type of dance hall, to sing songs that they have written.
Traditional Gurung society is divided into two main groups: the "four castes" and the "sixteen castes." This division forms the basis of their social differences. The Galle Gurung belong to the "four castes."
What are their beliefs?
When a Gurung dies, an astrologer consults his horoscope to determine whether the body should be buried or cremated. Then, 13 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?
Latest estimates from the World Evangelization Research Center.
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Bethany World Prayer Center
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