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Religions and Culture of Nepal

  Religions of Nepal:

On May 18, 2006 Nepal was declared a secular country by the Parliament. Lots of religions are practiced in Nepal and they are as such: Hinduism, Buddhism, Christianity, Islam, Jainism, Bon, Sikhism, ancestor worship and animism. Majority of Nepalese living in Nepal are either Hindus or Buddhists and the two have co-existed in harmony through centuries.

Buddhists and Hindus of Nepal both worship Buddha. The five basic elements: earth, water, fire, air and ether represent the five Dhyani Buddhas; Vairochana, Rathasambhava, Akshobhaya, Amitabha and Amoghasiddhi. Buddhist philosophy visualizes these deities to be the manifestations of Sunya or absolute void. Mahakaala and Bajrayoginiare Vajrayana Buddhist deities worshipped by Hindus as well.

The Hindus of Nepal worship the ancient Vedic gods. The God who is worshipped as the Supreme Hindu Trinity is Bramha as the Creator, Vishnu as the Preserver and Shiva as the Destroyer. In most Shiva temples people pray to the Shiva Linga or the phallic symbol of Lord Shiva. Shakti is highly respected and feared as she is the energetic element in the female counterpart of Shiva. Some of the names given to Shakti are Mahadevi, Bhagabati, Mahakali, Ishwari. The Virgin Goddess, Kumari, also represents Shakti. In addititon to this there are some other famous deities and they are Saraswati for knowledge, Ganesh for luck, Lakshmi for wealth and Hanuman for protection. Krishna is also worshipped widely as he is believed to be the human personification of Lord Vishnu. Holy scripts of Hindu Ramayan, Bhagawat Gita and Mahabharata are widely read in Nepal. During special occasions Vedas, Upanishads and other holy scriptures are read by well learned Brahmin Pundits.

  Culture of Nepal

Nepal is a country in which customs and traditions of one part are different from the other. An accumulation lies in capital city Kathmandu where cultures are joining together to form a national identity. Since the unification of Nepal in the 18th Century Kathmandu Valley has served as the country’s cultural metropolis. In a Nepali’s everyday life religion plays an important factor. The year round festivals celebrated with much pomp and joy adds color to the lives of Nepalese. In the celebration of these festivals food plays an important role.

  Customs and traditions of Nepal:

The vivid variety in terms of traditions and customs in Nepal again makes room for various sets of customs. Most of these customs go back to the Hindu, Buddhist or other religious traditions. The rules of marriage among these religions are particularly very interesting. Once the boy or girl come of marriage, age customary marriages deals are approved by parents.

Beef are not eaten by Nepalese and there are several reasons for this, one reason of not eating beef by Nepalese being that the Hindus worship cow and cow is also the national animal of Nepal. There is one more interesting concept among Nepalese and that is division of pure and impure. For the Nepalese “Jutho” is a word which refers to food or material touched by another’s mouth directly or indirectly, and so is considered impure by Nepalese. For cleansing purposes cow dung is considered to be pure by Nepalese. Women are considered impure during menstruation and hence, are kept in isolation until their fourth day purification bath. Nepal is a patriarchal society and as per Nepali culture men usually go out to work while women are homemakers. On the other hand, in cities, roles literary differ, most Nepalese abide by the caste system in living habits and marriage. In Nepal the urban life carry glitz and glamour of the ultra-modern world while the rural Nepal is mostly agrarian.

  Food of Nepal:

Even though Nepal does not have a distinct cooking style but then also the food habits differ depending on the region. Indian and Tibetan styles of cooking are applicable in Nepali food. In Newari and Thakai cuisines real Nepali taste is found. Instead of cutlery the Nepalese generally use their right hand to eat. Dal (lentil soup), bhat (boiled rice) and tarkari (curried vegetables); often accompanied by achar (pickle) is the major and habitual meal of Nepali. On special occasions curried meat is prepared and is very popular, as it is relatively more expensive so it’s not prepared frequently but is prepared on special occasions only. One of the most popular snacks among Nepalese is Momos (steamed or fried dumplings). In some homes rotis (flat bread) and dhedo (boiled flour) also make meals.

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