Prayer Profile
The Western Magar of Nepal

[IMAGE] Nepal is a small mountainous kingdom lying sheltered at the foot of the Himalayan Mountains, sandwiched between India to the south and Tibet to the north. It is home to approximately 110 distinct ethnic groups who speak a variety of languages and have many diverse religious beliefs.

The Magar are one of the oldest known tribes of Nepal. They live on the Terai plain where the hills begin, in the small lower hills of the Mahabharat Lekh, and sometimes in the high mountain areas. Their origin is unclear; however, they are believed to be of Tibetan descent, since their language and dances are similar to those of Tibetan culture.

The Magar can be basically divided into Eastern and Western Magar, then further divided into a number of clans. These include the Rana, Tharpa, Ale, Poon, Budhathoki, and Gharti. There are also four major language groups that distinguish the Magar and give them their tribal identity.

What are their lives like?
Most of the Magar are craftsmen, involved in various trades. Some work as miners; others are blacksmiths or basket weavers. A smaller number own their own land and have taken up agriculture for their livelihood. As a people, the Magar tend to be simple, hard-working, honest, self-reliant, and generally self-sufficient. They are said to be a happy people who enjoy dancing and singing. They perform different kinds of dances and frequently enjoy their own unique tribal games.

Magar houses usually have two stories and roofs of slate or thatch. Generally, they are large and made of stone. Often, a verandah extends along the front of the house.

The Magar men typically wear loincloths and bhotos (shirts with sleeves) or loincloths with shirts and coats. The women often wear dhotis, or loincloths of short width. They may also wear a pair of fulis (flower-like ear ornaments) and necklaces made of glass beads and Indian silver coins. Western-style clothing, however, is slowly becoming more common.

The most distinctive element in Magar family structure is the strong connection between a maternal uncle and his nephew. Mutual respect is shown because the nephew has the first claim to marry his uncle's daughter. Marriages are usually arranged by the groom's brother-in-law, who goes to the house of the bride's parents. Gifts of money and alcohol are made, and if the woman accepts the proposal, further payments are then made. After marriage, the couple will usually establish their own home, separate from their parents.

"Life cycle rituals" are important in Magar society. On the eleventh day after a baby is born, it is washed for the first time and given a name. The festival of Jyestha Poornima is observed on the full moon in May or June, and newly harvested grains are offered to the gods at that time.

What are their beliefs?
Generally, the Western Magar are regarded as ethnic religionists, practicing their ancient religions and traditions. However, there is a strong Hindu influence due to the influx of Brahmans from India, and approximately 30% of the Western Magar are Hindu. They worship the major Hindu gods, such as Brahma, the creator of the universe; Vishnu, its preserver; and Shiva, its destroyer; as well as a host of other deities.

What are their needs?
Nepal has long been hidden away and forgotten by most of the world. Fiercely opposed to any form of proselytizing, the Nepalese government has imposed harsh restrictions and subsequent penalties on Christian witness. Many believers have spent significant periods of time in prison because of their beliefs.

There are very few Christian resource materials available to the Western Magar. Many have never seen a Bible, and there are only a handful of believers. Fervent prayer and additional laborers are urgently needed if the Western Magar of Nepal are to come to a saving knowledge of Christ.

Prayer Points

  • Ask God to raise up loving Christians who will take the Gospel to the Western Magar of Nepal.
  • Pray that the Bible will soon be translated into the Magar language.
  • Ask the Lord to speed the production of the Jesus film and other evangelistic materials into the Magar language.
  • Pray that God will reveal Himself to the Western Magar through dreams and visions.
  • Pray that God will strengthen, protect, and embolden the small number of Western Magar believers.
  • Take authority over the spiritual principalities and powers that are keeping the Western Magar bound.
  • Ask God to raise up prayer teams who will begin breaking up the soil through worship and intercession.
  • Pray that strong local churches will be raised up among the Western Magar by the year 2000.

Latest estimates from the World Evangelization Research Center.


  • People name: Western Magar
  • Country: Nepal
  • Their language: Magar
  • Population: (1990) 192,500
    (1995) 219,200
    (2000) 248,400
  • Largest religion: Ethnic religionist 70%
    Hindu 29.9%
  • Christians: <1%
  • Church members: 66
  • Scriptures in their own language: None
  • Jesus Film in their own language: None
  • Christian broadcasts in their own language: None
  • Mission agencies working among this people: 0
  • Persons who have heard the Gospel: 24,200 (11%) Those evangelized by local Christians: 6,600 (3%)
    Those evangelized from the outside: 17,600 (8%)
  • Persons who have never heard the Gospel: 195,000 (89%)
  • 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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