The Kirat people, indigenous to the mountainous regions of Nepal, embody a rich tapestry of cultural and religious traditions that are deeply intertwined with the natural landscape they inhabit. This essay aims to provide an introduction and overview of the beliefs, mythology, and rituals of the Kirat culture, with a particular focus on their deities, mythological narratives, and unique cultural beliefs.

Kirat Yakkha Group Kirat New Year Celebration
Kirat Yakkha Group Kirat New Year Celebration

Beliefs and Mythology

At the core of Kirat belief is a profound reverence for nature and the spirits that dwell within it, which is reflected in their animistic and shamanistic practices. The Kirat religion, often termed Kiratism, is characterized by the worship of nature deities and ancestors, a testament to the community's deep-rooted connection with their environment.


The pantheon of Kirat deities is extensive, with Sumnima and Paruhang being among the most venerated.

Sumnima and Paruhang: Sumnima is considered the mother goddess, representing the Earth, fertility, and prosperity, while Paruhang is revered as the sky god, symbolizing the heavens, rain, and the spiritual realm. Together, they embody the harmony between earth and sky, material and spiritual, guiding the Kirat people in their daily lives and agricultural practices.

Yuma: Another central figure is Yuma, often regarded as the omnipotent creator goddess, embodying wisdom and the protector of the Kirat people. Her teachings and moral codes are fundamental to Kirat society, emphasizing respect for nature, communal living, and the importance of maintaining a balance with the natural world.

Mythological Narratives

The mythology of the Kirat people is rich with tales of heroes, spirits, and mythical creatures, often serving as allegories for natural phenomena, moral lessons, or historical events.

The Epic of Mundhum: Central to Kirat mythology is the "Mundhum," an epic narrative that encompasses creation stories, the adventures of deities, and the genealogies of Kirat heroes. The Mundhum serves not only as a religious text but also as a historical record and moral guide for the community. It details the origin of the universe, the creation of the Kirat people, and the adventures and trials of their deities and heroes, offering insight into the values and ethos of the Kirat culture.

Rituals and Ceremonies

Kirat rituals and ceremonies are deeply symbolic, reflecting their beliefs in the cyclical nature of life, the interdependence of humans and the natural world, and the importance of maintaining harmony within the community and with the spirits.

Ubhauli and Udhauli Festivals: These biannual festivals mark the seasonal migrations of birds, symbolizing the changing seasons and the Kirat people's close relationship with nature. Ubhauli, celebrated in the spring, and Udhauli, celebrated in the fall, involve rituals, offerings, and dances to honor the ancestors and deities, praying for good harvests, health, and prosperity.

Sakela: Another significant ritual is the Sakela dance, a central component of the Ubhauli and Udhauli festivals, where participants invoke the spirits and deities through rhythmic movements and traditional music, seeking their blessings and protection.

Unique Beliefs

One of the unique aspects of Kirat belief is the concept of Dharma which, in the context of Kiratism, refers to the natural law or the intrinsic nature of the universe. Unlike the more familiar interpretations of Dharma in Hinduism and Buddhism, Kirat Dharma emphasizes living in harmony with nature, respecting all living beings, and adhering to the ethical teachings of Yuma.


The Kirat people of Nepal, through their beliefs, mythology, and rituals, offer a unique lens into the ways in which culture, spirituality, and the natural environment can intertwine to form a cohesive and enduring worldview. Their reverence for nature, the depth of their mythological narratives, and the vibrancy of their rituals not only enrich our understanding of the Kirat culture but also offer valuable insights into the importance of living in harmony with the natural world.

Kirat Rai Shaman 2018 Yaledong Festival Gorubathan Kalimpong District West Bengal