Rongkup in Nepal

Main Language
Largest Religion
Progress Gauge
* Data can be from various sources including official census, agencies, and local research. Data from these sources can sometimes differ even by orders of magnitude. Joshua Project attempts to present a conservative, balanced estimate.

Introduction / History

The Rongkup are an indigenous people of northeastern India, Bhutan and Nepal. Most of the population lives in India with smaller populations in Bhutan and Nepal. The Rongkup are also called Lepcha. They speak a Sino-Tibetan language called Lepcha. Many Lepcha also speak Nepali, which serves as a trade language among the peoples of Nepal. The Lepcha has its own script based on Sanskrit.

The Rongkup live in the valleys and hills of Nepal south of the Himalaya Mountains.

What Are Their Lives Like?

Most Rongkup engage in farming rice, millet, barley, maize, and wheat along with fruit and vegetables. Fish and chicken supplement their diets. They make an alcoholic drink from millet.

Besides farming, the Lepcha also specialize in carpentry, spinning and weaving. There is no division of labor based on sex. A man may spin and a woman may weave, or vice versa. Men and women work side by side in the fields. Rural citizens of Nepal pay little or no taxes. However, they are required to work without pay for local projects.

Village communities and extended families are a part of the culture. The Rongkup live in scattered communities. Sometimes they build settlements of two or three houses huddled together in heavily forested areas near their fields. They make their houses of finely woven bamboo strips or wood and have thatched roofs.

The Rongkup are gentle and live peacefully with little crime in their villages. They believe that aggression destroys the community, and elders handle all quarrels.

They have an oral culture. Dances, music on traditional instruments and singing take place on holidays.

The Rongkup marry within their group. Families arrange marriages with the consent of the young people. The local shaman finds an auspicious day for the wedding, based on the birthdays of the groom and bride. Due to lack of access to modern medicine, child mortality is high. Couples have many children, so some will survive to adulthood.

What Are Their Beliefs?

Most of the Lepcha consider themselves Buddhists. However, they practice two major religious philosophies: Lamaism, derived from Buddhism, and Mun, a folk religion. Though they are contradictory, they practice these beliefs simultaneously. The Mun religion involves a special relationship with a family spirit. They use animal sacrifices and direct communication to appease and ward off evil spirits that may cause disease or disaster.

For Lamaistic Buddhists, offering animal sacrifices is a terrible sin. They founded their philosophy on reincarnation (continuous cycle of death and rebirth), and they believe that their works in this life will either reward or punish them in their next life.

What Are Their Needs?

Many Rongkup do not have access to electricity or modern medicine. Medical teams of believers can help the Rongkup. The Rongkup people would benefit from the installation of solar panels. Christians can start schools so they can read the Rongkup Bible.

Most of all, the Rongkup need to hear a clear presentation of the good news of Jesus Christ. He alone can forgive their sins and grant them eternal life. He can free them from their fear of evil spirits.

Prayer Points

Ask the Lord to send Christian medical personnel and teachers to share the love of Jesus with the Lepcha of Nepal. Pray that Christian radio broadcasts and evangelical literature will become widely available to the Lepcha. Ask the Lord to save key leaders among the Lepcha who will boldly proclaim the gospel. Pray for a strong church planting movement among Rongkup families.


Scripture Prayers for the Rongkup in Nepal.

Profile Source:   Joshua Project  

People Name General Rongkup
People Name in Country Rongkup
Alternate Names Lap-cha; Lapche; Mutanchi; Mutanchi Rongkup; Nunpa; Rong; Rongke; लेपचा
Population this Country 4,800
Population all Countries 100,000
Total Countries 3
Indigenous Yes
Progress Scale 1
Unreached Yes
Frontier People Group No
GSEC 5  (per
Pioneer Workers Needed 1
People ID 13041
ROP3 Code 105723
ROP25 Code 304672
ROP25 Name Lepcha / Rongkup
Country Nepal
Region Asia, South
Continent Asia
10/40 Window Yes
National Bible Society Website
Persecution Rank Not ranked
Location in Country Ilam District, Mechi Zone.   Source:
Total States on file 7
Largest States
Country Nepal
Region Asia, South
Continent Asia
10/40 Window Yes
National Bible Society Website
Persecution Rank Not ranked
Location in Country Ilam District, Mechi Zone..   Source:
Total States 7
  Mechi 3,500
  Dhaulagiri 800
  Kosi 200
  Bagmati 200
  Sagarmatha 80
  Gandaki 50
  Lumbini 20
Website South Asia Peoples
Primary Religion: Buddhism
Major Religion Percent *
87.64 %
Christianity  (Evangelical Unknown)
3.56 %
Ethnic Religions
0.00 %
6.78 %
0.00 %
0.00 %
Other / Small
2.01 %
0.00 %
* From latest Nepal census data.
Current Christian values may substantially differ.
Primary Language Lepcha (2,900 speakers)
Language Code lep   Ethnologue Listing
Language Written Yes   ScriptSource Listing
Total Languages 3
Secondary Languages
Primary Language Lepcha (2,900 speakers)
Language Code lep   Ethnologue Listing
Total Languages 3
Secondary Languages
  Lhowa 700
  Nepali 400
People Groups Speaking Lepcha

Primary Language:  Lepcha

Bible Translation Status  (Years)
Bible-Portions Yes  (1845-1989)
Bible-New Testament Yes  (1989)
Bible-Complete No
Possible Print Bibles
World Bibles
Forum Bible Agencies
National Bible Societies
World Bible Finder
Virtual Storehouse
Resource Type Resource Name Source
Audio Recordings Audio Bible teaching Global Recordings Network
Audio Recordings Story of Jesus audio Jesus Film Project
Film / Video Jesus Film: view in Lepcha Jesus Film Project
Film / Video World Christian Videos World Christian Videos
General Scripture Earth Gospel resources links Scripture Earth
Text / Printed Matter Topical Scripture booklets and Bible studies World Missionary Press
Photo Source Anonymous 
Map Source People Group data: Omid. Map geography: UNESCO / GMI. Map Design: Joshua Project.  
Profile Source Joshua Project 
Data Sources Data is compiled from various sources. Learn more.

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