Culture and customs of Nepal
Nepal known as agricultural country more then 80% of people work on field therefore most of the people are farmers. The people in the hilly region are much more traditional than those who live in modern city like Kathmandu, Pokhara Terai. In Nepal, the traveler can see the family- oriented society and most of the people live in a joint family house. In Nepal, people produce food by themselves and sell in the market. In return, the people buy mostly non-food items that they cannot produce themselves such as sugar, soap, tea, cloth, jewellery and many other things. Traveling in Nepal the travelers should respect the customs and culture of the local people. When trekking you will have a chance to meet and interact with friendly local people. In Nepal, trekking is a fascinating cultural experience and most rewarding. Here are some tips which help you to act and appear respectful when it comes to Nepali culture and customs:
In Nepal the best thing to do particularly for women is to dress modestly. As a rule, your clothing should be below the knee and should cover the shoulders. Bare shoulders are a sign of immortality mainly for women who will attract unnecessary attention from men. Usually, Nepali women wear a Kuta Surwal if they are unmarried and a sari and blouse after they get married. Only in modern city of Nepal you see women wearing skimpy clothing and then very rarely. The local men mostly wear shirts and pants. It is suitable for traveling males to wear longish shorts and tea shirts. You should avoid going bare chested mainly in the remote areas. Most of the old people put a topi (hat) on their head. Wearing proper clothing is respectful and people will treat you accordingly.
Dal Bhat Tarkari is the National food for Nepalese people. Same dishes they eat twits a day. Most of Nepalese people eat with their hands and do not feel comfortable while eating with utensils. They use their right hand for eating and left hand is used for toilet hygiene purposes. If you are invited in to a house to eat you may find that they don’t have cutlery. You will be shown a place to wash your hands and face before and after eating. Your plate is considers as only yours once you commence eating you should not share or offer this food to anyone else. You should also eat everything that is put in front of you. If you feel you have been given too much food, ask them to take some away before you commence eating, this is perfectly acceptable and is more appreciated than wasting food. Nepalese will not usually take bites of each other’s food. While drinking water Nepalese people drink without letting, it touches by their lips. If you are unsure just observe what the other people are doing.
All bodily secretion and products are considered polluted. A Nepali person will not step over your feet or legs. You should not touch people on the head nor should you touch or point your feet at people. This can be a grave insult. The left hand is also considered polluted; you should never offer it to someone. Normally Nepali people do not use toilet paper or tissues they find it unhygienic. In the toilet there will be water for washing your parts with. You should use your left hand only for this. Don’t expect to find toilet paper in private houses esp. in remote areas. Also you should note that in most hotels and restaurants toilet paper is provided but you should put it in the bin provided, not flush it down the toilet as this can block the plumbing.
Men and women
Physical contact between men and women should be avoided in public. However, you will notice that it is acceptable for boys and to hold hands etc and vise versa for girls. Don’t be surprised to see boys walking arm in arm and hugging. These things are signs of friendship and should not be taken any other way. You will never see Nepali men and women displaying signs of affection towards each other.
While you are at the Temple
You should be especially sensitive about etiquette in places of worship. Dress conservatively and keep shoulders and knees covered. Always take off your shoes before entering. Beware that some Hindu temples do not allow non Hindus to enter. Also you should ask before taking photos of religious festivals, cremation grounds and the inside of the temples. If you are wearing leather belt you will be refused entry into the temple. Also you should note that cows are a sacred animal in Nepal and injuring or killing them is an offense. You will find cows roaming freely all over the place.