Nepal a small Himalayan nation located in southeast Asia is a multicultural and multilingual country. In a small nation with just a total area of 147,181 sq. km you can find more than 100 ethnic groups with over 100 different spoken languages living in harmony. With many ethnic groups and their own beliefs and traditions; the cultural shock is usual to occur.
Nepal is a friendly country and welcomes visitors from around the world with happy faces. While travelling in Nepal is not a hassle and you are sure to enjoy from the moment you hit the tarmac of Kathmandu airport, it’s always better to know the Do’s and Don’ts in Nepal before arriving. These tips apply to every traveller whether you are coming for trekking in Nepal, climbing or leisure tour.
12 Do’s and Don’ts in Nepal | Know before you go
1. Greet with Namaste
Namaste – Done by joining two palms together and bowing your heads is a way of greeting someone in Nepal. Namaste meaning “The light within me honours the light within you”. Avoid greeting someone with a hug or a kiss unless you know the person well.
2. The cow is sacred in Hinduism.
Eating beef is not common in Nepal as similar to India. Killing a cow is a crime in Nepal as it is a national animal too. While the tourist restaurant does serve beef in their menus, beef is not incorporated in the Nepalese local diet. The locals especially Hindus do not eat beef. The Hindus worship the cow in Nepal.
3. Take out shoes, slippers, leather items while entering temples.
While entering the temples always remove leather items, shoes and slippers. Entering temples with the possession of these items are considered false and sin.
4. Always walk clockwise around monasteries, stupas and temples.
While circumambulating the stupa and monastery, always walk clockwise keeping the stupa and monastery to your right. Walking anti-clockwise is considered a sin and as a sign of disrespect.
5. Spin prayer wheels in a clockwise direction
Spinning a prayer wheel is considered as a way to accumulate merit and to purify your karma. The outer part of the prayer wheels is scripted with the Tibetan prayer “Om Mani Padme Hum” while in inside, it contains copies of mantra/sacred spells. With every turn of a prayer wheel, the prayers emanate and proceed to benefit the beings of the world.
6. A prayer flag is a sacred thing
For many, it may look like a colourful rectangular cloth comprising of five different colours but every colours and word in the prayer flag contain a deeper meaning. The five different colours of the prayer flag represent the five important elements (Earth, Water, Sky, Fire, Air). Do not let prayer flag touch the ground, do not step over the flag, hang it where it gets more wind as the prayers are carried by the wind as a silent prayer.
7. Wear long-sleeved clothes in temples and monasteries
Wearing short-sleeved clothes and shorts in temples and monasteries are considered offensive. You should make sure that your sleeves are of reasonably modest length. People generally cover the shoulders and chest, and pants or skirts go below the knee. Avoid revealing clothes
8. Use both hands while giving or receiving anything; as a sign of respect
Do not use a single hand while giving or receiving anything. Use both hands as a sign of respect and with the elders bow your head slightly to show your respect.
9. Ask for permission before taking pictures
Always seek permission before taking photographs of people, kids, heritage sites. Always ask first, and if they say “no,” respect it.
10. Do not point with an index finger at religious sites or objects.
It is considered disrespectful to point with your index finger, especially at religious sites or objects. Instead, extend your hand, palm flat and skyward, at the object you’re referencing.
11. Don’t wear your shoes inside.
Taking off shoes while entering someone’s house is a good manner and is a prerequisite in temple and monastery. Many people prohibit the usage of shoes inside the house that is worn outside to express respect for the place of worship or household. Also, be sure not to point the religious and sacred objects with your feet while sitting.
12. Other Important Do’s and Don’ts in Nepal
– Respect the local culture and tradition
– Non-Hindus are not allowed to walk inside certain parts of the Hindu temple.
– If you are invited to someone’s house, bring a small gift
– Don’t show affection in public places
– Do not judge the people/country on a limited experience as Nepal is a diverse country in terms of culture, religion and nature.
– Do not encourage beggars
– Don’t point at people with your feet as in Nepalese culture Foot is considered the lowest part of the body both literally and symbolically.