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Melting pot of Hinduism & Buddhism
The two major religions practiced in Nepal are Hinduism and Buddhism with a majority of the people being Hindus. The two have co-existed through the ages and many Hindu idols are found within Buddhist shrines. Hindus visit Buddhist shrines and Buddhists visit Hindu temples without a second thought as many worship in both. Some gods and goddesses are shared by Hinduism and Buddhism although they have been given different names.
Nepal was declared a secular country by Parliament on 18th May 2006. The other religions practiced in Nepal are: Islam, Christianity, Jainism, Sikhism and Bon. Some of the earliest inhabitants like the Kirants practice their own kind of religion based on ancestor worship and the Tharus practice animism. Over the years, Hinduism and Buddhism have been influenced by these practices which have been modified to form a synthesis of newer beliefs.
Most of the festivals celebrated in Nepal have religious significance. The dates of most festivals are fixed by senior astrologers after consulting the lunar calendar. The biggest and most popular festivals are: Dashain, a celebration of Goddess Bhagabati's victory over evil Mahisashur; and Tihar, a celebration of lights dedicated to Goddess Laxmi. Other important religious festivals celebrated by various communities are: Machhendranath Jatra, Indra Jatra, Lhosar, Maghi, Chhat, Christmas, Id and many more.
Nepal has several ancient pilgrimage sites. Each temple is attached to a legend or belief that glorifies the miraculous powers of its deity. Kathmandu Valley is home to the famous PashupatinathTemple, Swoyambhunath Stupa and several other well-known temples. There are hundreds of temples in and around the Kathmandu Valley and some fabulously designed stupas.
Some well-known pilgrimage sites are: Barah Chhetra, Halesi Mahadev, Janaki Temple, Pathibhara, Tengboche in East Nepal; Manokamana in Gorkha district, Lumbini, Muktinath, Gosainkunda, Tansen, Pashupatinath, Swoyanbhunath and Boudhanath in Kathmandu Valley in Central Nepal; and Sworgadwari, Khaptad Ashram in West Nepal. Muktinath in the Annapurna region and Gosainkunda in the Langtang region are well-known pilgrimage sites that fall along popular trekking routes.
Nepal is also the gateway to Mt. Kailash, the mythical abode of Lord Shiva and the holy Mansarovar nearby. There are churches, mosques and gurudwaras located in different parts of the country.
The most prominent are the two mosques located at Durbar Marg.Pashupatinath, dedicated to Lord Shiva, is the holiest Hindu destination in Nepal.
Swoyambhunath is believed to have been established more than 2,500 years ago.
Janaki Temple dedicated to Janaki (Sita in Ramayana).