Culture and Custom


Nepal is the meeting place of two different religions – Hinduism and Buddhism, two races, Caucasoid and Mongoloid and two civilisations Indic and Sinic. The population has a variety of ethnic groups each with its distinct identity. Polygamy is still practiced in some areas of the Nepal although legislation banned it in the sixties.

When entering rooms in Nepalese homes it is polite to remove your shoes. While some westernised Nepalese might not be dong it, the best thing is to watch what others are doing. Many Hindu temples do not permit westerners to enter but they are quite free to watch from outside. Always walk clockwise around Buddhist stupas, chortens or mani walls. Everybody must remove their shoes and any items made from leather such as belts and bags before entering a Buddhist or Hindu temple.

Public displays of affection are not accepted nor should one swim naked in rivers or lakes. In the northern hill area, polyandry, the custom of a wife having more than one husband, was also practiced till recently. On the other hand, the Gurung group has an institution called Rodihgar intended to bring people together before they contemplate marriage. Widow re-marriage was not socially acceptable in some groups. An ethnic group such as Brahmins was prohibited for drinking alcohol and sometimes follows vegetarian restrains and amongst Brahmin families a man first met his wife on that day he got married. The Sherpa’s have a remarkably free and easy moral code.