Nepal is a multilinguistic and multicultural south Asian country sandwiched between two Neighboring nations China and India. So, the culture and Festivals of Nepal are unique and have a lot of diversity symbolizing the combination of Indo – Aryan, and Tibeto- Mongolian civilizations.
The culture and festivals of Nepal and its people are descended from two main religions; Buddhism and Hinduism. Whatever the festivals they celebrate, the food they eat, the language they speak, and the religion they follow, they all have a good sense of unity and harmony.
“Nepalese are one garland of hundreds of flowers” has been written in the National Song of the country. So, the motto of unity and peace is lively in each Nepalese. And I think the culture and traditions of Nepal should be known by every visitor and traveler to leave good impressions on Nepalese.
Nepalese are always modest and hospitable where ever in the world. Everyone loved to be respected and well behaved by third persons regardless of nationality, race, and religion. You would find a great demonstration of hospitality and politeness in Nepal for sure.
According to the Culture and traditions of Nepal, Guests are god. So, they always behave honestly with guests and there is etiquette to join both the hand and say “Namaste” meaning I respect the god in you. Being a multicultural nation, everyone has a specific method to respect the guest or visitors. They might say “Lhasoo”, “Namaskar” or whatever but they always join both palms to express their gratitude, which is an important culture of Nepal.
The society of Nepal consists of people with different caste systems and tribes. Mainly there is four caste system; Brahmins, Chettri, Baisya, and Sudras but the sub-clan and clans of each caste is very vast and limitless. Everyone has a different surname belonging to a specific class. Some groups like Brahmins and Chettri are regarded as higher class whereas small leveled classes are not allowed to enter the kitchens of higher caste till today.
The Caste system and sub-clans of the caste were divided according to the division of work by the ancestors. Though the Caste system was created to form a systematic community and nation gradually, there grew discrimination opinion for lower caste which is kind of dishonest according to today’s constitution of Nepal.
The higher class caste usually works in government or official administration whereas the middle caste works in the field of agriculture, trade, and commerce. The lower class are generally specialized in art and craftsmanship.
Nepal is dominated by patriarchal beliefs since the very beginning of the civilizations. Usually, women work in households, look after children, and men work outside and also considered as the economic source of the family.
Arrange marriage is still evaluated as the best marriage in society but there is a free opinion of love marriage too. When the boys and girls reach the appropriate age for marriage, it used to be the responsibility of the parents to search for perfect mate for their children. But nowadays important decisions like marriages are done by the child themselves.
Moreover, there used to be judgment for inter caste marriage in the past. However, Nepalese are accepting inter-caste marriage and some international marriage too.
Apart from blood-related marriage, all the marriages are accepted in today’s modern family in Nepal. Keep in mind that, each caste has a different method for choosing the perfect match and completing the marriage ceremony.
Language and costume are prominent features of Nepali culture and festivals. Mainly, the clans of Baisya and Sudras have many sub-clans with different linguistic values. They also have different styles of costumes for men and women.
Furthermore, according to the census report of 2011, there are about 120 spoken languages in Nepal along with the main Nepali languages. Maithili, Bhojpuri, Tharu, Tamang, Nepal Bhasa(Newari), Rai, Gurung, Magar, and Limbu script are the most spoken languages from different sub-clans.
Not only languages but also the festivals vary according to the caste system. It means each caste system has different norms and values related to festivals, costumes, and languages.
Religions plays important role in the daily routine, culture, and traditions of Nepalese. Nepal is a secular country since 2009 and many religions like Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, Christianity, Bon(Bompo), Kirant, Ancestor worshipping, and Sikhism have been coexisting in Nepal throughout the century. Mainly, Hinduism and Buddhism are widely spread in Nepal and these two religions have some holy places at the same time.
In the culture and Traditions of Nepal, Buddhist people worship different forms of Buddha and Bodhisatta. Though Sakyamuni Buddha was born in Lumbini Nepal, Buddhist people not only worship him but also devote to other Mahayana manifestations of Buddhas like Pancha Buddha(a group of 5 buddhas), Guru Rinpoche, Chenresig, and soon. Female Boddhisattaw, goddess of compassion like Green Tara and White Tara are also equally worshipped in Buddhist culture. Other Buddhist deities like Mahakala and Bajrayogini of the Vajrayana sect are worshipped by both the Hindu and Buddhist. You can find many monasteries, Gumbas, and Vihara all over Nepal related to Buddhism Literature and culture.
Nepali Hindu worship ancient Vedic gods and goddesses from the holy Books and Myths. Three high-ranking gods Bramha( the creator), Bishnu( the preserver), and Maheshawor(the destroyer) play an important role in Hinduism. Hindu worship other Hindu deities like Krishna for love, Laxmi for wealth, Kuber for prosperity, Sarawsoti for Knowledge, Ganesh( elephant god) for luck, and Hanuman( monkey god ) for protection.
Hindu culture and Traditions consist of Holy scriptures like Mahabharat, Ramayan, Bhagwat Gita, Vedas, Upanishads which are read on special occasions by priest or pandit.
In addition to this, Nepal is famous in the world, for its little living Goddess “Kumari”. The virgin goddess whose feet never touch the ground is believed to be a manifestation of the Hindu Goddess Taleju. Kumari Plays significant roles in many public ceremony “Jatras” in the Newari Community of Kathmandu, Bhaktapur, and Lalitpur. This norm and value of the Living Goddess are exceptional across the world. So, I think one must visit Nepal to coincide with colorful festivals to explore and research the Culture and Festivals of Nepal.
Nepalese culture and festivals highly differ according to religion as well as ethnic communities belonging to Nepal.
What are the chief festivals in Nepal?
It is ok if a Nepalese do not take part in other festivals but Dashain cannot be neglected by any Nepalese so far as I have known. It is because Dashain is also known as Vijaya Dashami (generally falls on the month of September and October) is the supreme festivals that are celebrated nation widely regardless of caste, religion, and Traditions.
Dashain festival is about 10 days long and this festival is celebrated for the joy of victory of “Satya” truth over the “Dustha” Evil. Goddess “Durga” also Known as Shakti, the female counterpart of Lord Shiva is a symbol of womanism, and power is worshipped in many Temples during this festival. Many Hindu Temple offers sacrifices of animals in the name of god but Cow is strictly prohibited to kill in Nepal as it is our national animal.
Since, the cow is also regarded as the manifestation of Goddess Laxmi, slaughtering of Cow is illegal in Nepal. A cow is worshipped in another grand festival “Tihar”(festivals of light) in Nepal. Not only cows but other animals like Dog and Crows are worshipped in the Tihar festival.
Though Dashain and Tihar are major festivals of Hindu Bhramin and Chettri ethnicity all the Nepalese celebrate these festivals. Rituals, traditions, and methods of celebration might be different but Dashain and Tihar are the chief festivals of Nepal forever.
Other important festivals include Buddha Purnima( celebration of the birth of Lord Buddha), Lhosar, Shekela, Udhauli, Ubhauli, Maghe, Shivaratri, Holi, and many more. Anyway, almost all the festivals include dance, music, and special foods as a part of Celebrations. There are countless festivals and celebrations in Nepal and you should visit Nepal once in a lifetime so that you could be a culture explorer in Nepal for sure.
Numerous Ethnic groups and several indigenous communities live in Nepal, So each culture and festivals are very distinct and remarkable. They all follow their own distinct cultures and traditions, speak mother tongue and national language Nepali as well. Moreover, the major festivals of each tribe are different and the way of celebrations and ceremonies is performed with a variety of rituals.
The culture and festivals of Nepal are really awesome and joyful so many Trekkers and Mountaineers spend their days after the journey in the valley by observing the art, culture, and craftsmanship of Nepalese people.