Discover Nepal: Land Of Temples, Curious Cultures, and Customs
Photo by Nirmal Qtc
There is a popular saying in Nepal, “If you don’t believe in Heaven then visit Nepal.” The expression was coined out of respect for the country's immense beauty and deep spiritual roots.
Nepal is home to Mount Everest, the tallest mountain in the world, and is the birthplace of Buddha. The country is ethnically diverse with over 100 ethnicities and over 124 languages. Most people in Nepal practice Hinduism, but Buddhism is also widely practiced.
Nepal is one of the most culturally rich places on Earth and remains a popular tourist destination for visitors worldwide. There is so much beauty in the country, festivals to visit, and interesting customs to adapt to when you visit the Land of Temples.
Some of the unique customs in the Nepalese culture include never eating with your left hand, a unique way of greeting, and a curious communication of yes and no. People in Nepal also do not show affection in public and consider cows to be sacred.
Keep reading to find out more about the Nepalese culture and what makes Nepal so interesting and enjoyable to visit!
Temples A Plenty
Photo by Stan Tuladhar
Nepal is famously known as the Land of Temples. The country earned this fitting nickname due to the huge array of gorgeous temples that envelop the land.
The Nepali people and kingdoms hold religion to a high significance. Hinduism is the predominant religion of Nepal, with Buddhism as the second most popular religion. Each temple and shrine across Nepal is sacred and revered for its own unique religious reason.
Temples and shrines across Nepal hold deep mythological significance to the residents and religious communities. The stories and myths associated with some of the buildings are so meaningful that people trek to the buildings no matter how difficult the journey is.
Due to the religious nature of the buildings, many of the temples and shrines forbid non-Hindu visitors. However, many tours escort tourists to view the most famous of the temples.
With the strong focus on spirituality in the country, many people make use of beautiful beaded necklaces called Malas, or prayer beads. Each Mala has 108 beads to help count mantra repetitions during a meditation.
The number 108 is said to be the number of existence as there is incredible synchronicity of this number throughout important universal figures. An example of this is that the sun's diameter is 108 times the diameter of the earth, while the sun's distance from the earth is 108 times the diameter of the sun!
Malas are commonly used in both the Hindu and Buddhist faiths but are also used by spiritualists alike. A Mala can help you hold a peaceful, protective space, or simply be carried to remind you to practice living compassionately. There really is no right or wrong.
You can find an ethically made Mala of your own at ShopatMAP. Each of our Malas are carefully handcrafted by local artisans in Nepal!
Photo by cottonbro
Curious Eating Etiquette
In the Nepalese culture, you will find that most people do not use cutlery to eat and instead prefer to eat by hand. However, they strictly only eat only with their right hand. The reason for this is essential, as Nepalese people reserve their left hand for hygiene purposes.
The people in Nepal are very kind and friendly, and treat guests very well. When you visit a Nepalese household, you will most likely be offered food and will be discouraged from helping with any food preparation or cleaning up after you eat.
Another interesting fact about the etiquette in Nepal is that people do not let their lips touch the edge of the glass or cup when drinking beverages or water.
No Handshakes, Namaste
Photo by Polina Kovaleva
Meeting someone from Nepal might feel strange, but it is best not to get offended if they won’t shake your hand! The handshake is new to Nepal since they have been introduced to western society, and instead they greet by putting their two palms together and giving a slight bow.
The hand gesture and bow is called the “Namaste”, which means “I salute the God within you.” When greeting with the Namaste, many people will say the word out loud. It is a friendly greeting that often means more of a “how are you?” than a “Hello.”
To show greater respect while greeting, Namaste can be said as “Namaskar”, while using the same hand gesture.
Mount Everest and the Himalayas
Photo by Glorious Himalaya Trekking Pvt Ltd.
Nepal is famous for being home to the world’s highest mountain, Mount Everest. The mountain brings many tourists into the country with the hopes of scaling the mountain and ticking it off their bucket lists.
Mount Everest is situated in the Himalayas Mountain range which falls along the border of Nepal and Tibet. The Himalayas is known for its snowfall and the legend of the yeti, the cold-climate version of bigfoot.
Mount Everest is almost 9000 meters high above sea level, making it one of the most difficult and dangerous mountains to climb in the world. The peak reaches temperatures that are near freezing.
Tourists are advised to only climb Mount Everest and the Himalayas Mountain range between May and September to enjoy the most breathtaking scenery that the area has to offer.
Emotion Restraint in Public
Nepalese people are generally always very happy and friendly in a public setting, but
any public displays of affection are seriously frowned upon. You won’t see couples hugging, cuddling, kissing, or even holding hands in public.
The interesting part about this Nepalese custom is that you will see people of the same sex showing affection towards each other, such as men walking with arms linked or women hugging other women in public.
It is also unacceptable to show anger in public. If two people disagree, it is more acceptable to discuss it privately in a humble manner than to talk loud and point fingers.
Nepal has an amazing number of different ethnicities, with over 100 coinciding in the country.
There are three main ethnic groups in Nepal. The indigenous Nepali people make up only 35.81% of the total population in Nepal. The other two most predominant ethnic groups in Nepal are the Tibeto-Nepalese people and the Indo-Nepalese people.
Tibeto-Nepalese people migrated from Tibet and live in the mountainous regions of Nepal, while the Indo-Nepalese people migrated from India and have settled in the fertile land of Nepal.
There are over 124 different languages spoken in the country as well, many of them yet to be linguistically explored. The native language of Nepal is called Nepali and is derived from Sanskrit.
Most people who live in Nepal speak Nepali, especially since it is the main language of the government, education, and most radio and TV shows. Although it is the native language, many people know Nepali as a second language after the language of their ethnic group.
Sacred Cows and Vegetarian Cuisine
Photo by Kat Jayne
In Nepal, it is illegal to kill cows, and it is forbidden to eat beef of any kind. Cows are seen as sacred beings and symbolize a Universal Mother. Meat, in general, is not eaten at every meal and is often reserved for special occasions.
The cuisine in Nepal is mostly vegetarian and is based on popular Indian and Tibetan styles of cooking. Nepalese people do not view food as a commodity. When children turn 5 months old they are given rice pudding for the first time and a celebratory feast is held called Pasni to celebrate a coming of age.
Survival Celebrations For the Elderly
Photo by Bishesh Pandey
One of the most beautiful customs in Nepal is the celebration of survival ceremonies held for the elderly when separate age milestones are reached. The celebration is called Janku, and there are five total milestone celebrations for each person.
The age milestones celebrated are 77 years old, 1000 months, which is approximately 81 years old, 88 years, 99 years, and 110 years. When someone reaches a Janku, they are paraded around the city in chariots for the day, visiting temples and dressed in clothing fit for royalty.
A Piece of Nepal
Nepal is a loved tourist destination and a country of rich culture. For a piece of Nepal, see our ShopatMAP store where we sell beautifully made pashmina and mala beads handmade by skilled artisans.
When you buy from ShopatMAP, 100% of the proceeds go towards supporting the artisan and helping impoverished children from around the world.
Written by ShopatMAP