|The identity of any nation or community is determined by its custom, language and religion. Nepal is the only Hindu Kingdom of the world with religious tolerance. Nepal has given the shelter to many religious like Buddhism, Islam, Jainism and others beside Hinduism. All these religious sects have lived in peace, harmony and solidarity since ages.|
They respect each other’s religions, customs and traditions. Unity in diversity is the major characteristic of Nepal and the Nepalese people. Religious faith and belief are the major values and norms of the society. They should be compulsorily followed by every person. If anybody doesn’t follow the traditional norms and values, he is regarded as a great sinner and a heretic. Though Nepalese are poor and there illiterate and are orthodox in their religious beliefs, religious salvation is regarded as their ultimate goal in life. Religion can play a significant role to eradicate traditional evils and launch social development activities.
But the religious belief sometimes has an adverse effect on the family planning programmes launched to reduce population growth.
A. Early marriage (child marriage)
From social and religious point of view, the Nepalese people follow a tradition of marrying their children at an early age. In rural areas, people still believe that if they can see the face of grandson at early age, then only they will go to the heaven. It is an auspicious act for them if they marry their daughter before her first menstruation. Due to such religious and social traditions, about 40 percent daughters are married before they reach the age of 16. As a result, several children are born before their mothers reach the age of thirty. Thus, having married at an early age, women in Nepal have a long period of fertility. This is one of the reasons for the rapid growth of population.
B. Preference to son
The wish to have sons rather than daughters is the result of religious belief and culture. In all societies in Nepal, a son is looked upon as a form of wealth. People cherish the belief that more sons earn more money and they can look after their parents in their twilight years. There still remains a belief that after the death of parents, their sons will open the gates to heaven for their departed souls. The materials of earthy life will be presented to them in the form of Shraddha ceremony, and if their sons actually carry out this act, they can enjoy eternal life in heaven. This belief is deep rooted in the minds of religious people. It is for this reason that even though there are four or five daughters already at home, the parents wish to have a son after them. The other reasons for greater preference to sons are son’s right to inherit parental property and continuation given to the family race by the sons.
C. Children – the gift of god
In Nepal, whenever the elders bless the younger ones, it’s with the words, ‘may your children spread far and wide and be as numerous as the stars in the sky’. The person having more children is regarded the luckiest and richest person. So that, many couples want to earn good prestige by bearing more children.
Thus many programmes have been brought to bring change in traditional concept that gives priority to have more children. But, people, still have religious concepts deeply rooted. They have the faith that the more the god gives them the more prosperous they become. This has directly contributed to growth of population.