In November 2016, USCIRF staff travelled to Nepal for the first time to assess religious freedom conditions in the country. Historically, religious minority communities— including Christians, Muslims, and Buddhists—faced few governmental restrictions on freedom of religion or belief in Nepal, and societal harassment was rare. However, the new constitution, promulgated in September 2015, criminalizes the act of converting a person to a different religion. It also declares the cow the national animal, which some officials have interpreted as enshrining in the constitution an existing penal code provision criminalizing the slaughter of cows or the consumption or sale of cow-derived items. Both constitutional provisions have raised significant concerns for Christian and Muslim communities. Additionally, Christians, Muslims, and Buddhists are increasingly concerned that political pressure from the governments of India and China is negatively influencing the government of Nepal’s actions concerning religious freedom and human rights. Moreover, religious minority communities, as well as Hindu Dalits, are concerned about growing Hindu nationalism in the country, which they perceive as a threat to religious and communal harmony.