Nepal is a beautiful country. It is known to be the birth place of Gautama Buddha, the founder of Buddhism. The people of this country live in harmony and with religious tolerance. It is a sovereign state which has rich culture and tradition. Due to its landlocked location and historical invasions, Nepalese culture and customs are influenced by Indian and Chinese culture. Large-scale migrations from Northern India, Tibet, China has made a diverse ethnic, linguistic pattern in this country. This country is a potpourri of ethnicity with beautiful cultural landscapes.
The People of Nepal
Nepali, (Gorkhali), which the national language, is derived from Sanskrit. 90% of its inhabitants live in villages and hilly areas. Many races and tribal groups live in different regions of the country. Its population is more than 26 million. Newars are a group of people who are believed to be the original inhabitants, and they live mainly in Kathmandu. Sherpas, one of the major ethnic groups, occupy the central and eastern regions of the country. Some of the other ethnic groups are Magars, Dalits, Kirats etc., Hinduism is the predominant religion.
Brahmins are the upper caste people and Dalits (untouchables) belong to the lower caste in Nepalese society. Freedom and opportunities that are available to women differ by ethnic groups and castes. Women belonging to higher castes do not come out in public because they believe that their family and caste reputation could be affected. Women of lower castes work for long hours for meager wages and are more outgoing. Arranged marriage is practiced in the culture of Nepal. When a child attains the nubile age, parents and elders in the family find a proper mate of appropriate status, caste, education. Usually, sons inherit the lands of their fathers, while daughters are denied from acquiring the property unless they stay unmarried at home above 35 years.
The people of this country are more conscious about cleanliness. It is quite evident from their eating habits. They pay reverence to the Hindu gods which they worship. They consider cows to be sacred, so they do not carry any leather items around the temple vicinity, because leather is primarily made of cow skin. Public displays of love is absolutely discouraged in their culture. They greet each other by joining their hands near their chest and saying Namaste. This is one of the important customs and traditions of this country.
Daura-Suruval, also known as Labeda-Suruval, is the traditional dress worn by men. A wool hat (Topi) is an additional accessory for men. Women wear cotton or silk sari, a garment worn with blouse which is similar to Indian women. The complete clothing is called Guniu. They wear a shawl like garb on the upper body.
Festivals and Celebrations
Dashain is the most important festival. The festival is religious and it lasts for 15 days. Dashain occurs before rice harvest around September-October. Family members unite and celebrate it joyously. Different rituals are performed on those 15 days of celebrations. This festival is also known to be the "day of victory over evil forces and demons." Some of their other festivals are Buddha Jayanti (birth of Buddha), Maha Shivratri (festival related to Hindu god Shiva), Mani Rimdu is a festival celebrated by Nepalese living in mountainous regions. They sing bhajans (religious hymns) and celebrate for the good of the world.
During the medieval period, Newari music flourished. A type of music called Dapa evolved during this era. Modern sense of music is quite dispersed which includes classical, folk, rock, pop, etc., Choice of music differs from caste to caste. Kirant music is played while performing rituals and religious offerings. Due to increasing radio stations and televisions, indigenous music of Nepal is declining.
Newari Cuisine is the most prominent cuisine. Newars eat Laa (Water-Buffalo meat) but observant Hindus avoid it. Newari cuisine consists of around 200 dishes. Mustard oil is used for cooking purposes. Pahari or Khas is the standard meal which is consumed twice a day. It consists of roti (made from wheat), dry cooked grains, vegetables, fruits, chicken, goat meat, fish etc., Domestic pork is eaten only by Magars, Dalits and Kirats.
Nepal is not only admired for its scenic beauty, but also for its culture, virtue, hospitable people and traditions which Nepalese carry out with full devoutness and sincerity.