History, Culture, Tradition

Brief about Gurung(Tamu):source wikipedia
The Gurung people are ethnic Tibetan group from the Central region of Nepal. Gurung, Sherpa,Tamang, Magar, Manaaggi, Mustaaggi, Walunggi and many Asian featured people of Nepal are the early settlers in Nepal’s mountainous and Hill areas. Their ancestors practiced Tibetan Bhuddism and Bhon (Shamanism). According to recent surveys, most Gurung people claim to be Buddhist. They live primarily in western Nepal in Gandaki zone, specifically Lamjung, Kaski, Tanahu, Gorkha, Parbat and Syangja districts as well as the Manang district around the Annapurna mountain range. Some live in the Baglung, Okhaldhunga and Taplejung districts and Machhapuchhre as well. Small numbers are believed to be living in Sikkim, Bhutan and India's West Bengal.

There are 686,000 Gurung (Τamu) (2.39% of Nepal's total population) of which 338,925 speak Gurung language. Gurung their ancestors, culture and traditions are traced back to Tibet. Though, Tibet is called "Bhot" in Nepali language. At the same time, the term "Bhotey" is used to condescend people of Asian physical appearance in Nepal by Nepali Bahun/Chettri. So, the term "Bhotey" is perceived derogatory to refer to the people of Asian appearance. Due to negative connotation, Nepali of Asian appearance refer themselves as Mongoloid. Sometime, the term Mongoloid gets mistaken by youngsters and they think their ancestors originated from Mongolia. No study findings have pointed Gurungs origin to Mongolia. Instead, many studies and historians had confirmed their origin to Tibet.


Gurungs are ethnic Tibetan. Recent, DNA studies have indicated their origin to Tibet. The ancient tamu(gurung) tradition known as "Pye-tan-lyu-tan" ...is preserved history of tamu (gurung,)many believe the 'Pye-tan-lyu-tan' states that the Gurung originated from Tibet. Gurung means "personal guard" in Tibetan. Gurung Shamanism tradition is similar to natives in Tibet, Siberia and Mongolia. However the crazy adept and spiritual master Lord Sri Akshunna who was born into gurung family of Guru Baaje holding the terma of pye tan lyu tan (Gurung Dharma) says actually Gurung came from the area of Tan Tise Gurung Gu-tzeg which is the local name for Mt.Kailash. But from there they descended into Annapurna region of Nepal via Muktinath area and settled into Gandaki region.This is also verified by the very ancient Siddha route to Kailash and Mansarowar from Nepal via Muktinath.


History of Gurungs

Early History

The Tamu (Gurung) Pye refers to the very beginning of civilization, more than eight or nine thousand years ago. They tell the origin of human beings and of the materials that they used. Tamu Priests still use some of these primitive utensils in their rituals. The Pye do not seem to have changed substantially over time.

They refer to the ancestors of the Tamu, their Aji-khe (Khe-ku, nine male ancestors), Aji-ma (Ma-i, seven female ancestors), and Aba Kara Klye, spiritual master, lords, ghosts etc. Tamu Pye tells how the first people lived in Cho ("Tso", which means lake in Tibetan) Nasa, a lakeside village, where they planted the first grain, barley. Then they dispersed to other places such as Sa Nasa, Dwo Nasa, Si Nasa and Kro Nasa, the latter being in the south, hot and fertile. Later the northern Cho Nasa was rich in religious activity, speaking Tamu-Kwyi. Other Tamu villages developed according to their proximity to the northern and southern ends. There are also stories about the discovery of fire, how the drum was first made, and many other things in the Pye.

The ancestors of the Tamu, Ma-i and Khe-ku, seem to have been represented as seven lakes (the former) and nine mountain peaks (the latter). There is a traditional assumption that Cho Nasa, as described in the Pye-ta Lhu-ta, lay in western Tibet, and was ringed by seven lakes and surrounded by three mountain ranges. To the south, in Xinjiang in Western China, north of Tibet, in the Turfan Depression, lay Kro Nasa. Large lakes are called nuur in Tibetan, nor in Western China, and tso(cho) in Tibet. In Tamu tradition, as they migrated from one site to another, they would call the new site by the old name if it was similar in aspect. Tamu Pye tells that the soul of a dead person is believed to go first to Koko-limar-tso, which is under water. In the Qinghai region of China lies a huge lake with an island in the middle called Koko Nor ( or Ching Hai). It is similar to Hara Usa Nuur (one of the seven lakes) of western Mongolia, and some near-by places have names which end in "chow", conceivably derived from the Cho Nasa of almost six or seven thousand years ago, described in Tamu Pye. Similarly Sa Nasa, Two Nasa, Si Nasa and kro Nasa could be placed in the Qinghai, Gansu, Sichuan and Yunnan regions of China respectively, running southward to tibet and then Nepal.

Gurung Music

The Gurung have a rich tradition of music and culture. The Gurung have established the system of Rodhi which is a little similar to modern discothèques, where young people meet and share their views in music and dancing. They have their own music and dancing history. Some musical dances such as Ghatu and Chudka are still in existence. In many Gurung villages they are still performing these types of musical dances, which are performed either in a solo or in a groups. Gurung films have been produced which promote these musical dances.

Our Traditional Jobs

Though only about half a million in number, the Gurung people have made distinct and immense contributions to history and culture and have demonstrated an unwavering commitment to world peace and progress. At present, the majority of Gurungs live in Nepal, where they form one of the many ethnic groups in the country. In Nepal, Gurungs have and continue to play significant roles in all spheres of the country’s development. Outside Nepal, many Gurungs, some in their renowned role as Gurkha soldiers, have lived and been exposed to diverse world cultures in areas as different as Bhutan, Europe, Hong-Kong, India, Japan, Korea, and the United States of America. In Nepal, Gurungs can be divided into two categories, highlanders and lowlanders (though Gurungs are predominantly highlanders). Highlanders living on the slopes of Himalayas still rely heavily on a pastoral and agricultural way of life. They grow rice, wheat, maize, millet and potatoes, normally on terraced mountain slopes. They also derive subsistence from sheep breeding for meat and wool, using fierce mastiffs as sheepdogs.
Many Gurung families, however, have another important source of income — the pensions and salaries of family members who are in the army. Among them are the legendary fighters of the British Gurkha Regiment, who were honored with Victoria Crosses for their bravery. Indeed Gurungs are renowned for their role as Gurkha soldiers, making unparalleled contributions in far flung places such as Europe during World Wars I and II, Burma, Malaysia, the Falklands, Africa, and India. Most recently, Gurungs have participated and continue to participate in most United Nations peacekeeping missions throughout the world.

Despite many pushes and pulls of modern day life, Gurungs are increasingly eager to learn, preserve, and celebrate their distinct cultural heritage and practices. This includes not only the various belief systems and cultural practices surrounding festivals, birth, marriage, and death rituals, but also the Gurungs’ own language Tamu Kwei, generally considered a Tibeto-Burman dialect. This focus on Gurung culture continues to provide invaluable insights and inspiration toward the future.

In an ever more interdependent world, Gurungs face the challenge of balancing the preservation of their unique cultural heritage with adaptation to the demands of modern life. The majority of Gurungs still struggle for basic opportunities to improve their livelihoods. As in the past, Gurungs need to invest in opportunities that build on their well-known attributes as people who are hard working, trustworthy, adaptable, and quick-learners in meeting the challenges of modern life in Nepal and beyond its boundaries. Gurungs seek support and guidance from individuals, institutions, and governments.

Gurkha Recruitment

Shri Lil Bahadur Gurung was the First Gorkha to become Director of Military Music Wing, Pachmarhi(Madhya Pradesh) of Indian Army. He composed a lot of Music for Indian Army. He was the first Indian to get diploma in band conducting from Licentiate Trinity college of London. Now a days he is settled down in Jabalpur, India and enjoying his retired life.

Havildar Bhanbhagta Gurung VC (September 1921 – 1 March 2008) (also known as Bhanbhakta Gurung) was a Nepalese recipient of the Victoria Cross, the highest and most prestigious award for gallantry in the face of the enemy that can be awarded to British and Commonwealth forces, awarded for his actions while serving as a Rifleman with the 3rd Battalion of the 2nd Gurkha Rifles in Burma during the Second World War.

Lachhiman Gurung, VC (born 30 December 1917) is a Nepalese recipient of the Victoria Cross, the highest and most prestigious award for gallantry in the face of the enemy that can be awarded to British and Commonwealth forces.


Their traditional occupation was based on sheep herding, trans-Himalayan trade and farming. In the 19th and early 20th century, many Gurung were recruited to serve in the British and Indian Gurkha regiments. Today, the Singapore Police, Brunei reserve units and the French Foreign Legion incorporate ethnically Gurung members. While serving in the British Army they have earned more than 6 Victoria Cross awards. Gurungs are not only restricted to military occupations, many live in urban areas and are employed in all types of labor, business and professional services.

Gurungs trace their descent patrilineally, organized into two groups, or moieties of patrilineal clans.

A noted Gurung tradition is the institution of Rodhi where teenagers form fictive kinship bonds and become Rodhi members to socialize, perform communal tasks, and find marriage partners. But the institution is rarely in existence because of its notoriety in the community. 'Rodhi' literally means weaving and making of baskets.

Generally speaking, the Gurungs are divided into two castes (Jaat in the local tongue); Chaar and the Sohra. Within the Chaar jaat there exists further sub-divisions: namely, Ghale, Ghotane, Lama and Lamichhaney. Their cultural norms and values are greatly influenced by the Tibetans. Tibetan priests does all the rituals. They are the main part of their culture. They are mainly Buddhist by religion. The Sohra jaat means (16 castes) ; but there exists more than 50 (approx) further sub devisions, named by their occupations. Their tradition mainly rely on Pye- taa, Lhu taa. They have their own priests, ‘ghyabreys’ and ‘pachyus’ and they do all the traditional rituals. They follow ‘Bon’ religion which was originated from Mongolia with the origin of gurungs. But we can see the influence of Hindu religion in the culture and tradition of the gurungs.


Traditionally, Gurungs are adherents of Shamanism–known as Bön among communal circles, although there exists significant distinctions with the Tibetan religion. Contemporary Shamanistic rituals such as ancestor and nature veneration, blood offering rituals found in the Gurung faith are no longer practiced by Tibetan, Mongols,Kalmykia Russians and Siberian Bön. Unlike Nepali Bahun/Chettri people, majority Gurungs do not participate in Nepali's Hindu animal sacrificing tradition. The role of religion among the Gurungs play an integrated role within their cultural circles.[3]

Centuries of cultural influence from Tibet and its northern neighbours–which adopted the Tibetan culture to a heavy extent resulted in many Gurungs gradually embracing Tibetan Buddhism–particularly among Gurungs in the Manang region–over the centuries, particularly the Nyingma school.[4] However, Shamanistic elements among the Gurungs remain strong and most Gurungs often embrace Buddhist and Bön rituals in all communal activities. The influence of Hinduism is also particularly strong among sections of Gurungs who live among ethnic groups who are more in contact with the mainstream Hindu Nepali culture. Veneration of Hindu, Buddhist and Bön deities are not unheard of among Gurung households.[5] According to the 2001 Nepal Census, 69.03% of the ethnic Gurung were Buddhists, 28.75% were Hindus and 0.66% were Christians. [6]

However there is distinct religious character of Gurungs from all religion hence Lord Sri Akshunna says let the Dharma of Gurungs be called Gurung Dharma and not Buddhist, Bon, or Hinduism. Unlike Nepali Bahun/Chettri people, majority Gurungs do not participate in Nepali's Hindu animal sacrificing tradition.