Introduction / History
The Mugal take their name from the village in which they live, called Mugu. Mugu is located in the western portion of the Himalayan Mountains of Nepal.
What Are Their Lives Like?
They speak their own language called Mugom, which is like Tibetan. Most of the Mugal men also speak Nepali, the official language of the country.
Although most Mugal farm for a living, the land is undeveloped and Nepal as a whole is poor. A couple of decades ago, the Mugal people were living in poverty and misery, but today they have become one of the wealthier ethnic Tibetan groups in Nepal. Though their population is low, their future looks good economically.
The Mugal earn their living in different ways depending on where they live. Because farmable land is in short supply in the mountain areas, these Mugal do little agricultural work. Most make their living by trading, weaving or raising livestock. A number of wealthy Mugal work in the main bazaars.
What Are Their Beliefs?
The Mugal build unique homes. Because they settle in mountainous areas, they build their three-storied houses out of wood and stone. They make flat roofs of wood, then cover them with a mud mixture. Each story comprises a single room with no window. Each floor has a door and walls which have small holes for ventilation.
The Mugal keep their livestock on the ground floor, called the goth. The next level, or the chhipra, contains their store of grain and salt. They use the upper floor or koga, as a living room and kitchen. A notched ladder provides access between floors.
In the past, parents arranged marriages for their children at age 5 or 6. The ceremony would take place when the children grew to be 15 or 16 years old. Young people had no choice about whom they would marry. Today, the Mugal people are transitioning out of this practice.
At the end of December, they celebrate the aunsi, or "dark moon." Twice a year, Mugals celebrate Lhosar, their main festival. They hold the second Lhosar festival at the end of February. At the festivals, the Mugal sing and dance. While dancing, the married males wear white turbans, and the married females wear a particular type of golden ornament.
Most Mugal village priests also farm for a living, unlike the typical monks who serve in other Buddhist communities.
Although Nepal is the only official Hindu state in the world, Buddhism is the religion for many Tibetan peoples, such as the Mugal. Buddhists believe that life comprises suffering caused by the desire for existence. They also believe that by following the "Eightfold Path," they can ease suffering.
What Are Their Needs?
On a practical day-to-day level, the Mugal people are much more concerned about the spirit world than they are about Buddhist theology. They worship a god named Chamdendae, which is a four-legged creature holding a flower and a prayer rosary.
Most of the world has forgotten Nepal. Although a foreign mission was allowed to do humanitarian work in Nepal in the 1950s, the Nepali government opposes any form of proselytizing. There are government restrictions. Family members cause more problems for Christian believers than the government.
The Mugal are one of the most isolated people groups in the world, both geographically and spiritually. The Mugal have had no chance to hear the wonderful news that Jesus came to set them free from sin and spiritual destruction. Who is willing to take the gospel to them?
Ask the Lord to thrust out Holy Spirit anointed people who are willing to share Christ with the Mugal.
Ask the Holy Spirit to soften the hearts of the Mugal towards Jesus and his gospel so that they will be receptive.
Ask the Lord to raise up a church planting movement among the Mugal people in the 2020s.
Pray that the doors of Nepal will soon be open to missionaries.
Scripture Prayers for the Mugal in Nepal.