Nepal's Customs And Culture

Customs and Culture 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 warmth to local civilization, willingness to learn and settle into Nepalese ways and values, you will be fine. For a people so deeply rooted in traditions and culture, the Nepalese are remarkably open-minded and easy-going. If at any time, you have doubts, ask, or simply do what other Nepalese do.

Nepal Spirit Adventures team has put together the following list, it is just a simple, brief introduction and in no way comprehensive:

A. 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. In Nepal, people especially ladies; do not normally shake hand when they greet one another.

B. Use your right hand to eat and deal with food people of Nepal usually uses their left-hand to wash themselves after defecating. Also remember that most Nepalese use their fingers to eat and using spoons and forks is not common, especially when you are having "Daal Bhat" the staple Nepalese diet, but this does not mean, however that the guest are not to use fork, knives and spoons. We have table manners in Nepal that are quite different from those you are used to at home.

C. When visting a Hindu temple, Buddhist Stupa, or rooms in some one’s house, you are expected to take off your shoes as a mark of respect and cleanliness. Remember if you sit down not to point the soles of your feet at anyone as this will most certainly cause offence. If you are seated on the floor, etiquette in Nepal demands that individuals do not step over your legs. As such it is necessary for you draw your legs up to enable the individual to pass.

D. Beef is prohibited among both the Hindus and Buddhists and no female animal is killed for food.

E. Once your lips have touched a food item or its container, it is considered Jutho (polluted) for others. Don't eat off someone else's plate or offer anyone food you have taken a bite out of.

F. Major Hindu temples are usually off-limits to foreigners. Don't enter them or take pictures unless given permission to do so. Do not take leather articles inside the temple precinct as they are prohibited. Also there will be small circular or rectangular stones or metal Mandala on the ground in front of most shrines. Do not step on them.
Religious etiquette in Nepal requires you to go round clockwise, or pass to the left of Buddhist Mani stones and prayer wheels, gompas and chortens. You should also leave a donation if you visit a monastery. Also for religious reasons, you should never touch the head of a Nepalese individual.

G. Men should never walk/trek around bare-chested. Shorts are acceptable, but long pants are better. Women are recommended to wear long skirts. Exposure of women's legs can bring unwanted attention, so avoid wearing shorts and short skirts. We would like to suggest you that don’t wear any scant clothing when in public.

H. Public displays of affection between man and woman are uncivilized in our society and are frowned upon. Kissing, cuddling and hugging in public areas is absolutely discouraged.

I. Please be patient. Anger and impatience will rarely make things better. Nepalese have a way of taking everything very cool.

J. Cheap charity breeds beggars but does not solve their basic problem. Therefore please do not encourage begging by being benevolent.

K. Beware of touts who claim to be representatives of companies and offer to take you to a bargain.

L. Use hotel safety boxes for your valuables during your stay in city; do not leave cash and other valuable things lying around in the room.

M. Finally, be aware that it is usual to tip guides and porters, so please budget for this, they will have been trying to make your trip wonderful, and will hope to see that reflected in your tip on completing the journey, it's important to them. How much? That is up to you and depends on how happy you are, but about 500 rp a day is a good starting point for a normal trek. Mountaineering and peak climbing is more dangerous and tips should be consequently bigger. Guides are usually given higher tips than porters. If you have any doubts about tipping, do not hesitate to ask us, we can give you our best advice.


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