Do’s and Don’t in Nepal
Nepal is a small country located in South Asia between two giant nations; China and India. Rather known as the country with mountains, Nepal is a melting pot of different local ethnic and regional culture.
Nepal is one of the oldest settlement where the people in the Himalayan region have been living for at least eleven thousand years. With its rooted history, Nepal has brewed many traditions and cultures throughout the year. Our daily lifestyle reflects the culture and beliefs that we abide by.
This culture and practice have become a fascination to the tourists visiting Nepal. Since Nepal opened its gates to foreigners in 1955 after the end of the Rana regime, tourism has flourished throughout the year. Being a religious country Nepal adheres to the saying Aathi Devo Bhawa, which translates to Guest is God.
As our culture and tradition determine even the day-to-day lifestyle, there are certain things a common Nepali might find offensive. You are our guest; we will welcome you will as best as we can; and the things you do, you might not have the slightest idea you are offending them and their culture. So, if you are visiting Nepal, here are the few things you might consider before doing it.
GREETING EACH OTHER
Don’t: In western culture, it is very common to greet each other with a handshake or a kiss on the cheek. But in Nepal it is something, you can’t even imagine to do. Touching is not a way to greet someone in Nepal. It is like an insult to our culture.
Dos: Joining our palms together and bowing heads at the same time, is how we greet each other, which is called Namaste. It is the ultimate way to show gratefulness and respect.
USE OF HAND
Don’t: You might use your one hand while taking or giving things in your country. But in Nepal, it is disrespect to use a single hand.
Dos: You should use both of your hands, especially if you are dealing with elders. In Nepal, it is a sign of good culture and morale. You are a foreigner that can be understandable, but if you use both hands, that will leave a good impression.
Don’t: You might have grown up treating both your male and female friends same or even with siblings, cousins or relatives. But, in Nepal, the culture is quite different.
Dos: In Nepal, we give women more space as a gesture of respect. I guess it is in other countries as well, but here, even small things like asking for a handshake is not common. Any kind of public gesture of affection between men and women is not common. So be extra cautious when you are dealing with ladies in Nepal.
CALLING OUT NAMES
Don’t: Calling out someone by name is not a big deal in western culture. You can literally call anyone by name form uncle/aunties to your teachers. But do not call by a person’s name once you are in Nepal.
Do’s: In Nepal, we commonly use the world didi meaning older sister or baini meaning younger and dai meaning older brother or bhai meaning younger. You can use these worlds while calling for a cab, in a restaurant or hotel to waiter/ress or manager, or anywhere you see a Nepali person. Calling names is considered disrespectful in Nepal.
Don’t: It is not a big deal to go outside wearing shorts and tank tops, but unfortunately that’s not the case in Nepal. The dress code is very strict, especially for ladies. So, you might prefer to wear something that shows your skin in less amount.
Do’s: Nepal is a conservative country which adheres to religious belief and dress is something that is very strict. Short and fancy dress is considered to be an insult to god. Dressing inappropriately can cause discontentment amongst locals. So, whenever you are out, consider wearing long-sleeved shirts and long trousers.
In cities like Kathmandu and Pokhara, it is quite acceptable now. But if you are to pay a visit to a rural area, then your dress code can be disrespect and can cause unnecessary attention.
SHOWING AFFECTION IN PUBLIC
Don’t: Western culture is very open and liberal form the dress code to greeting people in public. In Nepal, you are restricted to show any kind of affection in public. It is considered disrespectful and can cause unnecessary gossip and rumors.
Do’s: If you are in public, then do not make any physical contact with your partner like hugging and putting hands in the shoulder; the least you can do is hold hands. It is very unlikely that you will see any Nepali men and women in public with even holding hands. It is not okay to cause a public scene by displaying our affection in Nepal.
VISITING HOLY PLACES
Don’t: Now, the rules are very strict when it comes to holy places like temples and monasteries. You cannot enter wearing shoes, you cannot wear leather belts, you cannot take pictures, and you certainly cannot be loud and nosy.
You must know that the temple premises has many restricted places where even Nepali aren’t allowed. So, do not enter anywhere, without asking first.
Dos: First of all to visit a holy place, wear a decent dress that shows no skin. If you are there for research, then ask permission from an authorized person. However, just like other devotees, if you are come to pray, then you can follow the instructions of the priest.
Don’t: Unlike other countries, you will find stray dogs and animals in the streets in Nepal. It would be best to avoid them as they are not domestic and can react wildly even if you meant no harm.
Dos: Seeing all the animals on lose, you might feel responsible for them. But it will be best to leave them as they are. Talking about animals, cows are similar to gods in Nepal. They are worshipped and deeply revered by Nepali, so be careful if you cross them.
IN A MATTER OF FOOD
Don’t: There are many rules when it comes to food in Nepal. Nepalis prefer to eat food with the hand rather than with a spoon. Using the left hand is considered offensive by some families. Also, do not offer food after tasting it, do not eat from common avoid and pour into a different glass, instead of giving the one which you have already drunk from.
Another important thing is, Nepali eat their dinner with all the family gathered at one time. If you are staying in a homestay, you might want to wait a bit longer than rushing towards the end.
Do not ever ask or eat beef in Hindu and Buddhist family as a cow is a sacred animal and is worshipped.
Dos: In a typical Nepali family, they get fresh and even changes their clothes for dinner. However, you certainly don’t have to put much effort. It will be enough if you make yourself fresh. Eat only from your plate, sharing something that has been already tasted is offensive.
Don’t: The things that Nepali believe; they can literally put a shock on you. Like stepping over is an act of insolence. Try not to step over at another person feet or any sacred items. Similarly, avoid pointing fingers to person, a sacred place of a hearth, it is considered a bad thing.
Dos: This practice might intrigue you, but this is how it is in Nepal. In some culture, after people step over someone else, they touch their feet with forehead three times so they can undo this offensive act (if the person is a girl). However, you don’t have to go to that extent, just be on your guard.
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