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<< Indian Himalayas << About Himalayas >> << Culture Travel >> << Culture of Nepal >>

Culture of Nepal

Culture and customs in Nepal run deep. Some of them you will find interesting, some strange and others beyond logic. But as long as you show respect and sensitivity to local traditions, willingness to learn and adapt to Nepalese ways and values, you will be fine. For a people so deeply rooted in traditions and culture, Nepalese are remarkably open-minded and easy-going. If at any time, you have doubts, ask or simply do what other Nepalese do.

"Namaste" is a common act done by putting the palms together in a prayer like gesture to greet anyone in Nepal. Do not take it seriously if any Nepalese hesitates to shake hands because it really hasn't been very long since western traditions crept into the Nepalese way of life.

Nepal, a landlocked country of South Asia situated in the Himalayas, and the world’s only Hindu kingdom, shares its borders with the People's Republic of China, (Tibet Autonomous Region) and India, and the population of Nepal mainly consist of Tibeto-Burman, or Mongoloids from the north, and Indo-Aryans from the south. This ethnic diversity, and proximity to neighboring giant cultures have also influenced the culture of Nepal, and Nepal has inebriated several customs and cultural practices from the north (China and Tibet) as well as from the south (India), and over a period of time attuned the same to its own indigenous requirements based on its topography, available resources and climate.

Language

Nepali is the national language of Nepal and is written in Devnagari Script. Other languages spoken in Nepal include Maithili, Bhojpuri, Tamang, Avadhi, Tharu and Newari, however most educated Nepalese can also speak and write English.

Music of Nepal

Nepal has some thirty-six different ethnic groups and multiple religions and languages. Its music is similarly varied, with pop, religious, classical and folk music being popular. Musical genres from Tibet and Hindustan have greatly influenced Nepalese music. Generally, women, even of the musician castes, do not play music except for specific situations, such as at the traditional all-female wedding parties.

Like India, Nepal has several castes of musicians. These include the damai, who are both musicians and tailors, and the gaine, who were originally fisherman but are now travelling minstrels. The gaine perform for various patrons in exchange for food or other necessaries. They typically play the sarangi, a four-stringed, hand-carved instrument. Damai are perhaps best-known for their participation in panchai baja, a form of wedding band consisting of drums, horns cymbals and shawms. The highly-ritualized wedding ceremony includes a specific tune for the panchai baja to play in each section. In Kathmandu Valley, the panchai baja has been supplanted by brass bands.

The ancient Newar people are well-known for masked dances which tell stories of the gods and heroes. The music is percussion-based, sometimes with flutes or shawm accompanying the intense, nasal vocals.

Festival of Nepal

Several festivals are celebrated in Nepal, lasting from one day to several days. Dashain is the longest and the most important festival of Nepal. Generally Dashain falls in late September to mid October, right after the end of the mansoon season in Nepal. It is "a day of Victory over Demons".

Other important festivals include Buddha Jayanti (the celebration of the birth of Buddha); Maha Shivaratri, a festival of Lord Shiva, and during Maha Shivaratri festivities, some people consume excessive drinks and smoke charas. Sherpas, mostly located at higher altitides and in the Everest region, celebrate Mani Rimdu, for the good of the world.

Religious Way of Life

Religion is an integral and deep-rooted part of Nepalese life.  Temples, images, sacred paintings are to be seen everywhere.  Majority of the people is Hindu in Nepal, nevertheless, Buddhism has also important place in this country.  Hinduism and Buddhism are closely connected in Nepal and it would take a lifetime's study to understand the complexities of country's religious life.  Some hints regarding religious matters.

Travel in Nepal

The kingdom of Nepal is located between India in the south and China in the north at Latitude 26* 22" to 30* 27" and Longitude 80* 4 " to 88 * 12" east. Crowned by eight of the world's 10 highest mountains, Nepal compresses lush tropics and summit of Mt. Everest (Mt. Sagarmatha), the highest piece of the planet. This is the kingdom known as the unique and cultural destination in the tourism map of the world that combines the aesthetic and spiritual excitement and adventure.

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