During your trip to Nepal you'll quickly realise how important religion is to the Nepalese people. Even though Hinduism is the most popular faith, you'll come across a host of other religions being practised across the country. Nepal has never had a religious war and religious tolerance is the order of the day.
*After the earthquakes that shook the country in April and May 2015, the country is slowly getting back on its feet. This article was written before these catastrophic events occured.
80% of the population are Hindu. You only need to wander the streets during your trip to Nepal to see the importance of religion in people's daily lives. There are temples everywhere. They come in all sizes - huge, intricately sculpted and with ornate facades or tiny structures, sometimes with only a single, small statue inside. But size doesn't matter, each one is a revered centre of worship. You'll often see people pausing as they head down a street. They'll stop and briefly bow in front of a statue or religious image of a Hindu god before heading on their way, only to do the same in front of the next holy shrine. Considering the number of gods and goddesses in the Hindu pantheon, it can take up a lot of time. Each deity is blessed with several names. There are thousands and all are revered in equal measure. The highest gods in Hinduism are Brahma the creator, Vishnu the preserver and Shiva the destroyer. There's also Ganesh, with his distinctive elephant head, Hanuman the monkey, Nandi the bull, Durga, Parvati, Garuda and Kali, the goddess of war. It's a never-ending list.
Even though they only account for 10% of the population, Buddhists are highly visible in Nepalese society. You'll often see Buddhist monks, with their shaven heads and orange/yellow robes. They are held in high esteem by all walks of society. You'll also find numerous temples and gigantic stupas spread across the country. Make sure you visit Bodhnath or Swayambunath on the outskirts of Kathmandu. These two sites provide an fascinating insight into Buddhist practices and both are wonderfully atmospheric.
To complete the picture, 4% of the population are Muslim, with Christians forming the minority.
Nepal is a country that is openly against all forms of religious bigotry. Different religions live side by side, in perfect harmony and Nepal is one of the world's few nations to never witness a religious war.