Culture of Nepal
Culture of Nepal
21 May, 2019

The culture of Nepal is rich and unique. Nepal's cultural heritage has evolved over the centuries. This multidimensional heritage encompasses the diversity of the ethnic, tribal and social groups of Nepal, and manifests itself in music and dance; Art and crafts; folklore and folk tales; languages and literature; philosophy and religion; Parties and celebrations; food and drink.

Nepal was declared a secular country by Parliament on May 18, 2006. The religions practiced in Nepal are: Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam, Christianity, Jainism, and Sikhism, Bon, ancestor worship and animism. Most Nepalese are Hindu or Buddhist. Both have coexisted in harmony throughout the centuries.

Buddha is widely worshiped by Buddhists and Hindus from Nepal. The five Dhyani Buddhas; Vairochana, Akshobhaya, Rathasambhava, Amitabha and Amoghasiddhi represents the five basic elements: earth, fire, water, air and ether. Buddhist philosophy conceives these divinities as manifestations of Sunya or absolute emptiness. Mahakala and Bajrayogini are Buddhist deities of Vajrayana also worshiped by Hindus.

Nepalese Hindus worship the ancient Vedic gods. Bramha the Creator, Vishnu the Conservative and Shiva the Destroyer are venerated as the supreme Hindu Trinity. People pray Shiva Linga or the phallic symbol of Lord Shiva in most Shiva temples. The Shakti, dynamic element of Shiva's female counterpart, is highly revered and feared.

As per the 2011 census, 123 languages are spoken in Nepal. Nepal’s linguistic heritage has evolved from three major language groups: Indo-Aryan, Tibeto-Burman, and indigenous. The major languages of Nepal (percent spoke as mother tongue) are Nepali (44.6%), Maithili (11.7%), Bhojpuri (6%), Tharu (5.8%), Tamang (5.1%), Nepal Bhasa (3.2%), Magar (3%) and Bajjika (3%)

Nepal's ethnic diversity is giving way to several sets of customs. Most of these customs date back to Hindu, Buddhist and other traditions. Among them, the rules of marriage are particularly interesting. Traditional marriages require agreements reached by the parents after the child has reached the age.

Nepalese do not eat cow meat. There are many reasons for this, especially that Hindus revere cows. The cow is also the national animal of Nepal. Another interesting concept among Nepalese is the division of the pure and the impure. "Jutho" which refers to food or material that is directly or indirectly affected by another person's mouth is considered impure by the Nepali. During menstruation, women are considered impure and thus kept isolated until their fourth purification bath of the day.

However, food habits differ by region. Nepalese cuisine has been influenced by Indian and Tibetan cuisine styles. The authentic Nepalese taste is found in the Newari and Thakai kitchens. Most Nepalis do not use cutlery but eat with the right hand. Regular Nepalese food is dal (lentil soup), bhat (boiled rice) and tarkari (curry vegetables), often accompanied by achar (brine). Curry meat is very popular, but it is reserved for special occasions because it is relatively more expensive. Momos (fried or steamed dumplings) deserve to be mentioned as one of the most popular snacks among Nepalese. Rotis (flatbread) and dhedo (cooked flour) also make meals in some houses.

Several of the festivals of Nepal last from one to several days. Dashain is the longest and the most important festival in Nepal. Generally, Dashain falls in late September to mid-October, right after the end of the monsoon season. It is “a day of Victory over Demons”. The Newars celebrate the festival as Mohani. Tihar or Swanti and Chhath are other important festivals of Nepal. New Year’s Day of the lunar calendar Nepal Sambat occurs at this time.

 

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