Customs and Traditions of Nepal
Population and religion
According to Countryaah, the population of Nepal is divided into castes and nationalities. In the southern part of the country live mainly peoples originating from India, in the northern part – Tibeto-Burmese peoples. The main castes: Chhetri, warriors (about 13-16% of the country’s inhabitants), Brahmins, clergymen (13%), Magars (7%), Tkharu (6-7%), Tamangs (6%), Newars (5%), Rai (4%), Gurung (3%) and others. In Nepal, there are also residents who do not identify themselves with any of the nationalities and castes – 2%. Among them, Gurkha warriors are especially famous.
The dominant religious belief in Nepal is Hinduism (about 70% of believers among the population). There are also Buddhists in the country (11%), especially in the Kingdom of Mustang, animists, Muslims and adherents of other faiths.
Nepali (Parbatia, Khas-Kura) is considered the state language, it is spoken by almost half of the country’s inhabitants. It belongs to one of the branches of the Indo-European family of languages. It is related to the Hindi language. Maithili (12%), Bhojpuri (8%), Tharu (6%), Tamang (5%), Newari (4%) and Magars (3%) languages are widely spoken.
Rules of conduct for tourists
The country has many cultural traditions that may not be very clear to tourists. Most of them are connected with the religious worldview of the Nepalese.
An open demonstration of feelings between a woman and a man is unacceptable, even if they are in a marital relationship. Tourists should not hug, kiss or hold hands in public places. Check agooddir for recent history of Nepal.
Hindus revere the cow as a sacred animal. Accordingly, the country does not eat beef.
It is considered bad form to eat together from the same plate, drink from the same glass, eat food from used dishes.
Most locals eat with their hands.
Moderation should be observed in contacts with the local population. Of course, most Nepalese are quite friendly to tourists, but the country is inhabited by many nationalities and they all have their own views on foreigners.
If a tourist wants to take pictures of local residents, it is better to ask them for permission.
Greeting and communication
To greet each other, Hindus put their hands to their chest with palms together and say “namaste”.
When addressing someone, they add the polite “-ji” or the universal polite treatment “khadzhur” to his name.
The first is always greeted by an older, respected person.
Usually the locals do not shake hands.
The surnames of the Nepalese indicate nationality or caste.
Gestures and facial expressions
Nepalese express agreement with a nod of the head or a shrug of the shoulders, disagreement with a movement of the head from side to side, while usually lowering their eyes.
To call the waiter or attendants, an outstretched hand is used with the palm and fingers lowered down.
Since the left hand is considered unclean, it is not customary for her to eat, take anything, etc.
Nepalese never step over his legs of a sitting or lying person. It is not desirable for tourists to be located in space so that someone steps over them.
It is considered offensive to point at people or religious buildings with one finger or foot.
A wide wave of the hand is used as a universal pointing gesture.
The gesture of confessing one’s guilt is touching the hand of the offended person and touching the hand to one’s head.
The accepted European gesture in the form of a raised thumb with a clenched fist will be considered indecent in this country.
It is indecent to demonstrate the soles of shoes to others, to touch someone with your foot, to touch someone else’s foot.
Touching someone else’s head, especially the head of a child, is forbidden, as it is considered a sacred part of the body.
Behavior in the Temple
The temples and gompas of Nepal are bypassed clockwise.
In order to enter a Hindu temple, as well as some restaurants and houses, you need to take off your shoes and leave them at the doorstep.
If a tourist does not know how to behave when entering a shrine, he should follow how the locals do it.
Leather items are not allowed in a Hindu temple.
It is forbidden to smoke in places of religious worship.
There are many beggars around temples and sacred places. They can be given alms – “bakshish”. But at the same time, you need to be careful, there are many “professional beggars” in the country who seek to extract as much money as possible from tourists. Therefore, you should not believe everything that the locals tell, you should be wary of those who offer free services, such as guide services.
Men should not walk bare-chested and bare-legged. Pants are preferred over shorts.
Women are strongly advised to wear clothes that cover their arms and legs. In Nepal, women do not wear trousers. Of course, in the capital and large tourist centers, the dress code is much less strict, but you should not abuse the patience of the locals and wear too revealing clothes.
Holidays in Nepal
There are many holidays in the country, the main ones are:
January-February – Vasant-Pachami Festival
January 11 – National Unity Day
January 29 – Martyrs’ Day
February 18-19 – National Democracy Day (Rashtriya Prayatantra Divas)
February-March – a national holiday of Shiva’s birthday (Maha Shivaratri)
February-March – a festival in honor of the onset of spring Holi (Fago)
March – Day of the Horses (Gode Jatra) and the holiday of Site Dashain
March 8 – Women’s Day
March-April – Rama’s Birthday (Ram Navami)
April – New Year (Navavarsha, Bisket Jatra), Festival of Colors
April-May – Buddha’s Birthday (Jawanti Buddha) and the festival of Buddha’s enlightenment and death (Baisakh Purnima)
August – Rakshya Bandhan (Janal Purnima)
August-September – Krishna’s Birthday (Janmashtami)
August-September – Cow Day Gai Jatra (Gayatra)
August-November – Rain God Festival (Indra Jatra) and Kumari Devi
September – Teej Women’s Festival
October – the most important religious festival of Nepal – Bada Dasain (Durga Puja)
October-November – Festival of Lights (Deepavali, Tihar)
November 9 – Constitution Day
December 29 – Birthday of King Birendra Bir Bikram Shah Maiden
Saturday is a public holiday in Nepal.