Culture in Nepal has been derived from the way of life in this Nation. Nepalese culture is one of a kind and is something to blend in and savour.
Nepalese culture has been passed down from generation to generation. It is a precious treasure that the Nepalese showcase with a feeling of immense pride. It is quite old, but one of the most intriguing ones that you will find!
Nepal has a dash of diversity in all parts, geography, ethnicity, tradition, religion; making the culture of Nepal diverse too. We can find a different twist throughout various parts of the country. The culture and tradition of Nepal is a culmination of its ethnicity, religions, values, and beliefs, tribal and social groups. Nepal's rich and diverse culture is reflected in its music, dance, art, literature, folklore and its language. It is a showcase of what the Nepalese lifestyle has to show and offer. Culture in Nepal is a symbol of the nation's wealthy, harmonized and diversified society.
The Nepalese tradition is a bright mix of its ethnicity and religion; every culture has its significance. The Nepalese greet each other by joining two of their hands and slightly bowing down; this is called a Namaste. Along with the Namaste comes warm greeting to guests who are regarded as gods and are treated with great respect. According to the Nepalese culture, life is a gift, and every person is to be considered as a god, so every event in life must be cherished. Even when a child is born, the name-giving ceremony is called Nuwaran, where the child is given name starting from an auspicious starting letter. Later, when the child becomes 5-6 months old, the first time he/she eats rice is celebrated as Pasni with a feast.
If the child is a boy, then he undergoes a ceremony call Bratabandha which declares him as a man. The boys shave their head during this ritual. In the Newari community, girls marry a wood apple during their adolescence to shelter her if her husband dies as the wood apple is a symbol for Lord Kumar. The Newari girls also go through the Bara ceremony or also known as 'Gufa rakhne' as a symbol of ascension to womanhood. The marriage ceremonies are treated auspiciously too, with a very elaborate ritual, including the bride and the groom.
Moreover, when a person reaches a certain age, Jankhu is performed. Jankhu is done when a person reaches the age of 77, 1000 months, 88, 99 and 110 years to celebrate his/her survival. Also, after death, a ritual call Shraddha is done in which death is mourned the dead person's relatives for 13 days by wearing white clothes and remaining pure. In the Upper Mustang and Dolpo, sky burial is carried out, which includes leaving the dead body to be eaten by vultures and crows.
The ethnicity is based on the diverse geography of the country. In general, the ethnic groups of Nepal can be divided into three types: Indigenous Nepalese, Indo-Nepalese and Tibeto-Nepalese. The Tibeto-Nepalese are said to have migrated from Tibet and settled in the mountainous regions of Nepal. Their culture is similar to that of Tibetan society, and they have a Mongoloid appearance. They are said to wear Bakkhu and Docha, which are thick clothes suited for cold weather. The indigenous Nepalese include those who existed in Nepal before the arrival of the other ethnic groups. Their culture is deeply rooted in traditional Nepalese ways. They mostly reside in the hilly regions of the country. The indigenous people makeup about 35.81% of the total population of Nepal and very diverse within themselves too.
Lastly, the Indo-Nepalese, who migrated from India reside in the Hilly and Terai regions of the Nation. These include the fertile lands, and thus their primary occupation during the ancient times was farming. The Indian ways mostly influence Their culture, and the Indo-Nepalese have an Aryan complexion. They compose the majority of Nepal's population, and their reach can be found in almost all regions of Nepal.
Since the declaration of secularism, Nepal has been very tolerant in the matters of religion. Nepal welcomes new religions as it enhances the diversity of culture in Nepal. Since ancient times Hinduism is established as the dominant religion in the Nation. It was previously a Hindu Nation, and 81.3% of the total population of Nepal are Hindus. Hinduism largely influences the culture and tradition of Nepal due to the sheer number of followers of Hinduism. The second most dominant religion would be Buddhism, with 9% of the total population. The rest of the community follows Islam (4.4%), Kiratism (3%), Christianity (1.5%) and others (0.6%).
The perfect harmony among the followers of various religions is truly a wonder. Many Buddhist and Hindu religious sites are interconnected or combined. The followers of both religion equally respect the deities and worship them. This is an example of the harmony and feeling of brotherhood that exists in the Nepalese culture.
Multi-religious and multi-cultural feature of Nepal contributes the varieties of festivals observed throughout the year. Being primarily affected by the Hindu and Buddhist communities, most of the festivals are related to them. Most of the festivals in Nepal as tied to some cultural and traditional values. The Nepalese culture of putting Tika (a mixture of red colour and rice grains) is a compulsion in most of the festivals.
Moreover, taking blessings from elders is an absolute necessity as it is a part of the culture of Nepal. The most auspicious festival of Nepal is considered to be Dashain, which is celebrated for ten days. People return home to their families, and it is also known as the festival of reunions. This festival marks the victory of good over evil, and it is celebrated grandly.
Followed by Dashain festival is Tihar, which is celebrated for five days in which every day has its particular significance. This festival is also known as the festival of light, and the environment is exceptionally bright and festive. This festival thanks animals for their services and on the last day sisters worship their brothers, who in turn receive gifts. This strengthens the bond between them. On the fourth day, Newari people also worship themselves calling it 'Mha puja'. Buddha Jayanti is also observed in the Nation to mark Buddha's birthday.
Similarly, the people from the Terai region worship the sun, this festival is known as Chhath. It is to thank the sun for sustaining life on earth. The people from the mountain region also observe the Tibetan New Year as Losar, three times in a year for different ethnic groups! All of these showcase the rich and diverse culture of Nepal!
The streets of some famous tourist hubs can be seen flooded with Thanka paintings (Tibetan paintings on cotton/silk cloth), metal and wooden handicrafts, and traditional Tibetan rugs. Nepal is famously known for its spectacular handicraft works. The Thanka paintings and the craftworks are just a peek into the world of Nepalese arts and craft. The walls of the Buddhist monasteries painted with vibrant colours, the carefully crafted wooden idols in temples, articulate the sophisticated and marvellous artistic culture of Nepal.
Even the Nepalese architectural style has remained significant since ancient times. Pagoda and Stupa styles are prominent among the significant structures in Nepal. These two styles represent Nepal's artistic approach to architecture. Araniko, one of Nepal's finest artists, is said to have brought the pagoda style to China. The famous durbar squares built by the Malla kings are showcase the pagoda style while the Buddhist shrines express the stupa style.
The Nepalese food is a culmination of Indian and Tibetan culinary. The traditional staple food is Daal-Bhaat. This cuisine includes white rice with gravy of lentils. Along with Daal-Bhaat, vegetable curry or known as 'tarkari' and meat items are also served. The food, however, varies in different regions according to the climate. In the mountainous region, the rice is replaced by Dhindo, a thick porridge made from buckwheat or millet. People substitute items with everyday food items found in the area.
Gundruk (dried, fermented leaves of leafy vegetables) are also quite popular. In the Kathmandu valley, mo: mo or Tibetan dumplings are quite renowned. The fillings can be meat or vegetables; this is treated as a delicacy in Nepal. The food during festivals is also quite different. Sel roti, a ring-shaped sweet bread, is quite famous in the festivities. Another renowned food would be Yomari, a type of dumpling with a sweet filling.
The national language of Nepal is Nepalese or as the locals say Nepali. Nepali is spoken throughout Nepal and only in few parts is it not spoken. Because of the multi-ethnic background of Nepal, there are about 123 languages at present, and many remain unexplored! The most spoken languages in Nepal include Nepali, Maithili, Bhojpuri and Tharu.
The birth of the Nepalese literature began with Bhanubhakta Acharya, the pioneer of Nepalese language in Nepal. Sanskrit was prevalent in Nepal during 1800. He translated the previously in Sanskrit, Ramayana into Nepali and made it available to the public. Since then many have contributed to the Nepali literature, some of the notable names include Parijat, Laxmi Prasad Devkota, B.P Koirala.
The culture of Nepal is quite exciting and diverse. It certainly is something that one must not miss. With the diverse ethnicity and geography, Culture in Nepal must be experienced first-hand at least once in their lifetime!