Located between the two larger countries, China and India, Nepal is a small landlocked country known to the world as a mountainous country. The mountainous country is not the sole identification of Nepal. It is also known to the world as a multicultural country. Though it is small, the nation rejoices in the diversity garnered in Nepali culture.
Nepal is one of the rich countries in culture and tradition. Due to different kinds of beautiful culture and tradition, it is famous worldwide. The way of life of Nepal is rich and unique than that of others as they have developed over centuries. Different cultures are found to differ according to religion, caste, etc. As there is a culture of doing Namaskar to the relatives we meet. Here is a culture bowing head to our elders and many other cultures. Culture is the collective form of music, religion, literature, and architecture.
Culture itself is a complex phenomenon. It is a range of complex whole that encompasses different costumes, practices, discourses, art, law, beliefs, habits, etc., that governs the way of life of a particular group at a particular time. In a society, culture may be universal, material, or immaterial. Universal culture, found in all human societies, includes human behavior like kinship, marriage, dance, music, rituals, religions, and ways of cooking, shelter, and clothing. Tangible/ material culture covers physical expressions of culture like technology, art, and architecture. The immaterial/Intangible aspect encompasses principles of social organization, mythology, philosophy, literature, and science.
Nepal is a multicultural, multilingual, and multi-ethnic country with people of different religious tolerance among the people. The people who follow the Hindu religion are a significant number. After that, Buddhists and other people of different religions are also found as it is one of the secular countries. Different religions have their values and norms. People of every religion celebrate their festivals according to their culture and traditions. There are many cultures found in Nepal. Some of them are as follows:
Nepal, a secular country declared by the Parliament on May 18, 2006, has different religions, i.e., Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam, Christianity, Jainism, Sikhism, Bon, ancestor worship, and animism. Some populations followed Hinduism or Buddhism. These two co-existed in harmony for centuries. Different religions have their norms and values, as distinct religions follow distinct gods and have different rules, regulations, ways of celebrating festivals, etc., and so on. s Lord Buddha is followed by both Hindus and Buddhists. In contrast, Hindu followers worship different ancient Vedic gods. Muslims worship Allah, whereas Christians worship Jesus and many other religions worship their god.
The variety in Nepal in phrases of ethnicity again makes room for various customs. Most of these costumes go back to the Hindu, Buddhist, or different spiritual traditions.
Among them, the guidelines of marriage are mainly interesting. Traditional weddings are named for offers arranged by parents after the boy or girl comes of age. Nepalis no longer devour beef. There are various motives, one being that the Hindus worship cows. The cow is also the national animal of Nepal.
Another fascinating concept. Nepalis is a division between pure and impure. Jutho, referring to food or fabric touched by another’s mouth immediately or indirectly, is viewed as impure by Nepalis. Nepalis think that cow dung is pure for cleansing purposes.
Women are viewed as impure during menstruation and saved in seclusion until their fourth-day purification bath. Nepal is one of the two patriarchal societies, where guys typically go out for work while women are homemakers.
Nepal Culture and Unity in diversity
Nepali culture is enriched with diversities. Though small, the country relishes galore in terms of culture. The country contains various castes and religions, and consequently, there have arisen varieties in the rituals, festivals, dance, music, and clothing. Tangible and intangible cultural aspects have also been changing and flourishing over the course of time.
Reflection on Nepali Culture
Nepali culture can be reflected in the following facts:
The presence of different castes: Nepal has been called a homeland to 4 castes and 36 subcastes by King Prithvi Narayan Shah, who unified Nepal. Traditionally, the Nepalese caste system, which consisted of 4 classes, i.e., Brahmin, Kshatriya, Vaishya, and Sudra, was the base for the social stratification. The job they performed was according to their castes. Coming to this modern era, this system for the job according to caste is no longer practiced.
According to the Census of 2011, 125 castes/ ethnic groups have been reported in Nepal. The most prominent ones are the Chhetris, and following them, the others are Brahmin, Magar, Tharu, Tamang, Newar, Kami, Musalman, Yadav, Rai, and others. These ethnic groups have their attires, traditions, religions, festivals, foods, dance, music, and identification. Nepali is the national language of Nepal. However, these castes also possess their languages, and this makes Nepal a multilingual country.
Religions in Nepal: Nepal is a secular country. There are many religions present in Nepal. However, the most prominent ones are Hindus and Buddhists. The presence of Hinduism and Buddhism dates back as long as the history of Nepal, 11000 years back. The founder of Buddhism, Gautam Buddha, also known as the light of Asia, was born in Nepal.
Similarly, Shree Pashupatinath, a holy place for the Hindus all over the world, also lies in Nepal. There is a great significance of Hinduism and Buddhism in Nepal. The other religions extant in Nepal are Christianity, Islam, Jainism, Shikism, and other fringe religions.
Celebrations of festivals: The celebration of the festivals in Nepal differs according to religion and ethnicity. Nepal is predominantly a Hindu and Buddhist nation, and most Nepalese festivals are religious ones. Dashain is the most important festival in Nepal. It is mostly the festival of Hindus, but as Nepalese people have migrated from one place to another and are blended with the other cultures, people of other religions interested have also been celebrating Dashain.
The other important festivals in Nepal are Tihar, Chhath, Holi, Saraswati Puja, Raksha Bandhan, Krishna Janmashtami, Teej, and Maghe Sankranti, Buddha Purnima, Maha Shivaratri, Udhauli/ Ubhauli, Lhosar, and many others.
Rituals: Main rituals followed in Nepal are the naming ceremony (Nwaran), rice feeding ceremony (Pasni), Tonsure ceremony (Bratabandha), and the ceremony of giving Nepali Sari (Guniu Cholo), marriage ceremony, and funeral rites. These rituals are followed in all ethnic groups. However, the way may differ from one caste to another.
Arranged marriages are the norms in mainstream culture. In some Mongolian ethnic groups, cross-cousin marriage is approved. It was abundant in the past but is on the decline along with modernization. In the Newar community, there are other rituals like Bel Bibaha and Gufa for the maidens. Previously, marriage between different castes was not approved by society. However, now love marriages, and inter-caste marriages are increasing as well. The funeral also differs from the castes. Some burn the body, whereas some bury it, and the practices vary too.
Costumes in Nepal: Diversities in ethnicities have also created room for the setting of different costumes. Nepalese does not eat beef as they consider cows to be holy animals and worship them. People are liable to punishment by law if they kill cows. Nepal is a patriarchal society, but nowadays, women’s empowerment is on the rise. Gender roles are shifting, especially in urban areas. Jutho refers to food that has come directly or indirectly from the other individual’s mouth. It is considered inedible by many people. People may or may not use cutlery for eating purposes. There is conservative thinking, mainly in rural areas, about clothing.