Get to know Nepal with Iida
Mount Everest, temples, Himalaya and “namaste” said with palms pressed together.
We all know these things about Nepal and Nepalese culture. However, Nepal is much more than these above-mentioned stereotypical themes. This writing consists of a couple of my notices of Nepal and its culture which I learnt during my visit in Nepal in May 2019.
(Freedom of responsibility -clause: I have learnt these things from the locals and this text might be coloured by my own experiences. Therefore, these points might have some inaccuracies.)
Prior to the period of British control in the 17th–19th centuries, there were many states in the Indian area. Nepal was one of these countries and these countries had their own flags. Most of these flags disappeared during the period of British control, but Nepal preserved its traditional flag. Nepal’s flag is the only national flag in the world that isn’t a square or rectangle. The symbols of the flag – the sun and the moon – are associated with different dynasties. These symbols also symbolize the hope that the country may live as long as the sun and moon.
Religion & Buddha
Nepal is a secular and a multi-religious country, but Hinduism is the dominant religion and Buddhism is the second dominant one. According to the Buddhist tradition, Buddha was born in an area called Lumbini in Nepal.
Cows & Constitution
You may know that the cow is considered a sacred animal in Hinduism. In addition to the important role in religion, the cow is the national animal of Nepal and this animal has constitutional protection. The slaughtering of cows and consumption of its meat are banned and it is punishable under the Nepal constitution. Cows are also allowed to walk on the highways.
Rice, momo and lassi
Rice contributes 40% of the energy and 23% of protein in a Nepali’s daily diet. Rice is cheap, it is the most important crop of Nepal and it is the primary source of income. The Randepu village is surrounded by rice fields and every meal we ate in the village consisted rice. A general meal in the village consisted rice, spinach, potatoes and lentils.
One of the foods I really miss is lassi. Lassi is a really popular yogurt-based drink in Nepal.
Momo (a type of dumpling) deserves mentioning. It is one of the most popular fast foods in Nepal. I am not the biggest fan of those because I got horrible vomiting which lasted two days after eating momos in Kathmandu.
For me, one of the biggest surprises in the village was the amount of different kinds of religious festivals. Festivals have an impact on the school routines because usually festival day means day off at school. As a result, holidays caused surprises for us and changes for the school day.
People are using three calendars side by side in Nepal: the Western calendar, the Lunar calendar and Bikram Sambhat -calendar. Religious festivals are determined by the Lunar calendar. This calendar contains hundreds of religious festivals. One of the most important festivals in Nepal is Dashain. Generally Dashain falls in late September to mid-October.
Once we were in the village with my friend Anttu, we participated in one bigger ceremony. This occasion has almost the same purpose as Christian confirmation. Two young boys with yellow gowns were in the center of different kinds of rituals and almost half of the village followed the ceremony. After boys' heads were shaved bald, a variety of foods were consumed and villagers had given their presents, boys were adults in the religious standpoint.