With its diverse ethnic groups and traditional beliefs, Nepal has numerous cultural practices that may appear unusual to a person on his/her first, and at times, even the second, visit the country.Some of these practices may even offend Westerners. However, to enjoy your visit, we recommend that rather than shunning Nepalese traditions, you get absorbed within them to actually get a taste of this majestic Himalayan nation. Here are some “do’s and dont’s” that might be helpful for the traveller on the fly.
- The form of greeting in Nepal is “Namaste” and is performed by joining the palms together. A person places his or her palms together—with the fingers up—in front of his or her chest or chin and says “Namaste,” or “Namaskar” to superiors.
- Before entering a Nepalese home, temple or stupa, remember to remove your shoes.
- Be careful not to use your spoon, fork or hands being used while eating to touch others’ food, plates, cooking utensils or the serving dish. Do not eat from other people’s plates and do not drink from other people’s bottles or glasses. It is considered impure by the Nepalese.
- Do not lick your fingers after eating any finger food (or any food for that matter). Also, blowing your nose loudly in public can be considered outrageously gross by some.
- Never touch anyone (or any object which people regard with reverence, for eg. a book, or a Hindu idol) with your feet. This is considered an offence among Nepalese. If possible, do not point your feet towards other Nepalese while being seated.
- While travelling, dress appropriately. Women should especially avoid dressing in revealing outfits. While there will be no overt reaction of any sort on skimpiness of outfits, locals will definitely appreciate if visitors, especially women, go in sync with the existing social norms of dress up.
- Seek permission first before entering a Hindu temple. Many Hindu temples do not allow westerners to enter. A not-so-fun fact: even today, many strictly Brahmin (a Hindu caste of the highest hierarchy) families do not allow anyone except Brahmins inside their homes.
- Leather articles are prohibited inside temple precincts.
- Walking around temples or stupas is traditionally done clockwise.
- Take photographs only after receiving permission for the object or person being photographed.
- Even if your conversation with a Nepalese is interrupted with frequent and unimaginably long pauses, you can be sure that he/she is not feeling that uncomfortable. Pauses between conversations are pretty much a norm among the Nepalese.
- Public displays of affection are frowned upon. Do not do something that is totally alien to our environment.
- Remember, many times, when a person shakes his head from left to right, he may mean “Yes”.
- Develop a genuine interest to meet and talk to Nepalese people and respect their local customs and traditions.
Please visit www.exotic-nepal.com for more sources and information about Nepal.