Every religious system in Nepal, including that of the Tamang, is multifaceted and has numerous practitioners. Without apparent contradiction, western Tamang simultaneously engage Buddhist lamas who preside over elaborate rites of death, sacrificial lambu who propitiate chthonic divinities and exorcise harmful agents, and shamanic bombo who recapture lost shadow souls, revive life-force, unveil an enigmatic divine, and reveal. Interpretations of religion in Nepal have treated divergent ritual strands as isolates, and there is a persistent image of the religious situation in Nepal as an amalgam of Hindu, Buddhist, and indigenous strands. This article, which ends with a Tamang myth about diverse ritual strands, concludes that particular ritual practices must be interpreted with reference to their relations to other strands in an encompassing ritual field. The field, though, need not be coherent and unified, as has often been assumed in culture theory. The ritual structure of the Tamang emerges as a variant of other ritual systems found throughout Nepal and in greater South and Southeast Asia.

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