Although most of the religions of the world are practiced in Nepal, Hinduism and Buddhism are without a doubt the dominant belief systems of the country. While most of the population is Hindu, Buddhism carries great weight with most Nepalese, and is equally observed and respected.
The kings of Nepal were all devout Hindus, and were believed to receive their powers and an affirmation to rule through the blessings of the Kumari, the Living Goddess, a pre-pubescent girl who must possess the prescribed thirty-six special attributes in order to be nominated and accepted. After a certain age, she leaves her palace to rejoin the world, but may never marry.
Contrary to popular belief, Hindus believe in one god; however, that being may be manifested in endless avatars or forms. The pantheon of Hindu gods is extensive, however, the triad of supreme beings includes Shiva, the Destroyer, Vishnu, the Preserver, and Brahma, the Creator.
Outside of Shiva, Vishnu, and Brahma, there are several gods which are well known even by non-Hindus. The elephant-headed god, Ganesha, is popular with both children and adults, rides a mouse, and is the "Remover of Obstacles" and the patron of the arts and sciences. Durga is another extremely popular and frequently worshipped deity. She is usually shown with multiple arms riding a tiger and slaying demons. Known as the Mother Goddess, she is the personification of the victory of Good over Evil.
Unlike religions like Christianity, Hindus pray quite frequently and festivals are usually geared toward worship much more than the commercialized holidays of the West. On the other hand, there are many sects of Hinduism; this is similar to how other religions have splintered into different groups according to differences in interpretation.
Lumbini, in the Terai, is the birthplace of Lord Buddha, and the area is on the list of UNESCO World Heritage sites. In Nepal, the two dominant groups who practice Buddhism are the indigenous Newar population, and the large group of refugee Tibetans. Bouddha remains the center for Buddhists; the area is famed for its monasteries and monuments, particularly Bouddhanath, with its typical Nepalese style of Buddha eyes painted on the stupa.
Religion in Nepal is closely linked to everyday life. It determines everything from birth to death, including caste, traditions, ethnic social rules, festivals, omens, food choices, architecture, marriage, worship, and death rites. It would be impossible to imagine any daily activity not directly or indirectly impacted by religion.