Nepal is blessed with a rich cultural heritage. Culture has been called ‘the way of life for an entire society’. The statement holds particularly true in case of Nepal where every aspect of life, food, clothing and even occupations are culturally classified. In a society so feudalistic and so fractured across class lines, cultural heritage comes as a fresh wind. The culture of Nepal includes the codes of manners, dress, language, rituals, norms of behavior and systems of belief.
The culture of Nepal is a unique combination of tradition and novelty. The traditions are followed as they were and new customs are created to keep pace with the changing times. It is surprising to note that a country as poor, illiterate and backward as Nepal displays such flexibility when it come to incorporating traits from other cultures. Culture in Nepal is an assemblage of music, architecture, religion and literature. The mountain kingdom of Nepal is multi-ethic and multi-lingual. The land is rich with unique cultural groups like Tharu,Yadav, Ahir, Newars and others.
Nepalese are among the most hospitable hosts. This is the reason for which tourists from far and wide enjoy coming to Nepal time and again. Nepalese are culturally warm, hospitable and affectionate hosts who place their heart above their head. Religion is the lifeblood of the Nepalese. Officially it is a Hindu country, but in practice the religion is a syncretism of Hindu and Buddhist beliefs with a pantheon of Tantrik deities tagged on.
Nepal’s food is surprisingly dull given that it lies at the intersection of the two great gastronomic giants India and China. Most of the time meals consist of a dish called dhal-bhat-tarkari that is a combination of lentil soup, rice and curried vegetables. It can hardly be considered, a dynamic national cuisine. On the other hand, Nepal has adapted famously to Western tastes, markedly evident in Katmandu’s smorgasbord of menus: Mexican tacos; Japanese sukiyaki; Thai chocolate; Chinese marshmallows; onion and minestrone soup; borscht, quiche and soy burgers; and some of the best desserts – apple and lemon pies, almond layer cakes, fruit cakes – found anywhere in the world.
Art and Crafts: Nepalese art is heavily inspired from Hinduism and Buddhism. The 2 millennium old Hindu and Buddhist heritage has survived various onslaughts and is still influencing the Nepalese art and craft tradition. Following are the various art and craft forms of Nepal.
Fairs and Festivals: Nepal has a vibrant Hindu past and that’s reflected in most of its festivals and celebrations. Besides, being the close neighbor of India, Nepal has had a constant history of cultural exchange with it. Therefore most of the Hindu festivals that are celebrated in India are celebrated in Nepal as well. The most important of these festivals are Dipawali and Holi.
Music: The rhythm, beats, bounce of Nepali traditional folk and classical music is spiritual enough to sooth you and entertaining enough to cheer you. Music is associated with every event in Nepal, then be it birth, marriage, festivals or National events.
Cuisines: The most prevalent Nepali dish is ‘Daal, Bhaat and Tarkaari’ (lentils, rice, vegetable curry respectively). This is the main course served in the most Nepalese houses irrespective of the economic conditions, that too in both lunch as well as dinner. Nepali food is much less spicy than Indian food, and many dishes are Tibetan in origin. It seems that Indian influence is only confined to Southwestern part of Nepal.
Languages: Nepal is a multi-cultural and multi-ethnic country. The Nepalese society has acted as the melting pot for various ethnic groups. Almost all of these ethnic groups have their own languages. Nepali or Nepalese is the major language of Nepal. It is also the official language of Nepal. There are other languages too that are widely spoken in Nepal such as Newari, Bhojpuri, Awadhi and Maithali. While the Newar community speaks the former, the immigrants from the Indian states of Bihar and Eastern Utter Pradesh speak Bhojpuri, Awadhi and Maithali.
People: Perched on the Southern slopes of the Himalayan Mountains, the Kingdom of Nepal is ethnically diverse. The Nepalese are descendants of three major migrations. These migrations have taken place from India, Tibet, and Central Asia. Among the earliest inhabitants were the Newar of the Kathmandu Valley and aboriginal Tharu in the southern Tarai region.