Nepal is a socially, culturally and religiously diverse country. Nepal is a multi-ethnic, multi-religious, multilingual and multi-religious country. Nepal is a multi-religious, multi-ethnic and multi-cultural country.
There are many cultural and religious heritages and sites in Nepal. Every year thousands of pilgrims come to visit Nepal. There are more than 125 ethnic groups, 123 dialects spoken and several religious communities in Nepal.
Although these diverse groups of people have their own culture, religion, language, festival, rites, and rituals, there is unity among them. Nepal has no records of religious and tribal fighting. It’s every citizen’s utmost duty and responsibility to uphold and promote unity in diversity.
Nepal: People, Culture, Traditions & Festivals
A community is a group of people who live in the same place sharing the common culture, customs, traditions, lifestyle, and objective. It is a part of human society. A human Society is a group of people living together in a more or less ordered community which shares happiness and’Sorrow. The people in society share laws, institution, traditions, values, and objective.
They involve with each other through persistent relations, activities, and interests. They share their pains and pangs with each other and cooperate for the solution. We can’t imagine the human existence in the absence of community and society. These communities have become an integral part of human needs and necessities.
Human beings are by nature social beings. They have the natural instinct to live in groups. However, the type of human safeties we have today took a long period of time to develop. Today’s society consists of families, wards, villages, cities, districts arid nation.
Human beings live in a family, which is a unit of a community or a society. A family also cannot live alone. It needs other families or neighborhoods. Families form communities and societies.
Wedged between India to the South and Tibet, China to the North, Nepal has enjoyed an independent political existence and an amazing contrast in landscape and topography. It has vast diversity as a multilanguage, multi-culture and multiethnic society. Similarly, Nepal has people of religious tolerance.
The physical features have been decisive in shaping the culture. The many disparate cultures and language are themselves a product of diverse and difficult terrain. The vastness of the mountains had cut off its people from the outside world and left them to enjoy a state of undisturbed peace throughout most of Nepal’s history. It helped Nepal to engender a unique quality of preservation in its cultural heritage.
Read More: Popular Culture of Nepal
The cultural practice of Nepal is essential of the Hindu and Buddhist derivation finding expression in the numerous rites and rituals, belief, social values, festivals, art, and architecture of the land.
The habitats of these various groups are found distributed everywhere, from the Terai to the hills. Different ethnics are staying in the different regions of Nepal.
Some of them living in the Terai whose population ranges from a few thousand among the smaller groups to several hundred thousand among the larger ones, are Meche, Satar, Rajbansi, Dhimal, Bodo, and Dangar. But the largest ethnic group of Terai is Tharu from east to west.
The people living in the hilly region are distributed in the various ecological and altitude zones, such as the river basins, lower sub-tropical hills, and the higher sub-temperate hills.
The groups living in the warm and low altitude valley-bottoms are the poorer and economically more backward people such as Raji, Majhi, Bote, Kumal, Danuwar, Darai, etc. In a little higher altitudes, Raute, Magar, Chepang, the Thani and Hayu live.
The zone close to the high Himalayas, along with the Himalayan south face and in the trans- Himalayan valleys, live the Bhote [Tibetan) population of many regional and dialectical groups, the Sherpas, the Thakalis and the Managis being the best- known among them.
Nepal is a small country, but it has tremendous diversity in landform, climate, and natural vegetation. It rises from 60 m elevations in the tropical Terai to the Earth’s highest point 8,848 m (29,029 ft). Mount Everest or Sagarmatha. Within the narrow width lies a variety of landforms. Diversity in landforms is one of the important features of Nepal.
I stand at a corner mesmerized, on this stone-paved pedestrian alley carved out sophisticatedly in between the stunning works of architecture; glaring at the durbars and the temples to which the Malla rulers had laid the foundation to some few hundred years ago.
What amazes me while trespassing this square is not just the finely designed and meticulately detailed Taleju temple and the Jagganth Temple, but also the wonderful aroma of the Traditional Newari cuisines oozing out from the nearby Newari household, beautifully settled on the outskirts of the main square itself.
This time of the year, it is the Yomari- sweet spice stuffed dried milk or the syrupy molasses wrapped around a soft flour skin and then steamed. That food my god, it just melts in your mouth.
The Newari culture which seemingly creates a vivid illusion for a first timer is one of the most refined cultures in the entire Sub-Indian Continent so refined and so rich that the Yomari and all of the meticulously detailed durbars have left me mesmerized let alone the music and the dance, the folklore, the festivals, and the literature.
The posh Newari culture is not the only one in Nepal, in fact, it is just one among 100s and originated from the previous know Nepal Valley(Now the area in and around Kathmandu), and the rich Newari Language is just one of the at least 123(officially recorded) language in Nepal.
With due influence from Indian, Mongolian and Tibetan regions the cultural heritage of Nepal has evolved over the centuries. This multi-dimensional heritage encompasses the diversities of Nepal’s ethnic, tribal, and social groups, and its richness can in illustrated in music and dance; art and craft; folklore and folktales; languages and literature; philosophy and religion; festivals and celebrations just a mention a few.
As a country, we are so diverse, so much so that Nepal cannot be identified with a single culture, all the cultures coming together is what defines the identity of Nepal. And that is why Nepal is beautiful, not just the mountains standing at all and the snow-fed rivers throbbing along the vast endless plains in the south, but the People that make up the Place.
The Tharu people an ethnic group indigenous in southern foothills of the Himalayas who claim to be ‘the People of the forest’ but now have been shifting to modern-day agriculture have influenced the region with their unique folklore and dance, their way of life.
Their social structure though still maintains the hierarchy of male patraich is quite complex but intriguing. It is the celebration of their Maghi Festival in the 2nd week of January that throws the nation to delight.
The Gurungs also called Tamu, originally an indigenous tribe from the Himalayas of the Mongoloid stock but Influenced by the Indian culture too and now spread to different regions of Nepal, dominantly to hills seem to have had a remote connection to the traditional rituals observed in the Hindu areas.
It is their unique traditional dress, though Gunyo cholo (a traditional dress was predominantly worn in most regions of Nepal); a variant from its original form and design that highlights this ethnic tribe. It is during the celebration of their New Year, Tamu Lhochchar in the 1st week of January, the nation embraces the Gurung culture as the Jewel on the crown.
The Gurungs and the Tharus are just two to mention, the Khas-areas; almost the 30% of the national population and though dominant in the hills a few decades ago, now spread to almost all regions of the hills and plains have their own ways to celebrate the birth, the death and everything else that comes in between the two.
Their tongue ‘the Khas Bhasa’ or what is commonly Known as ‘the Nepali Language’ has largely become the medium of communication both officially and otherwise in most regions of Nepal.
And so do the Rajbansis, the Yadavs, the Bhuihars, the Rajputs and the Mushars all of them dominant in the Plain Region. And the list goes on and forth in Himalayan belt, the Sherpas, The Tamangs, The Rais and the Limbus, with different rituals for birth and death, with a different language and religion and quite intriguing way of life.
When it comes to celebrations of festivals, it’s a heaven here. We are so vast and so diverse that every day is a festive day- of course of different cultures and tribes. The Dashain- a khas aarya origin festival but vastly celebrated for at least 10 consecutive days across the entire nation is often recognized as the national fevistal.
The myth goes on about the celebration of good over evil when goddess Durga killed Mahisasur-a mythical demon. The richness of Newari festivals right from Yamari Purne to Nu-Hu-Da Vintuna( the Newari New Year) cannot be described in words.
There are countless festivals of the countless tribes in this land of temples and gods. And with time some are evolving. One of them is the Chhath puja- celebrated over 3 days, by worshipping the sun god originally by the inhabitants of the Terai is now slowly being embraced in all the regions. And so is the Rakshabhandan- the day when brothers and sisters profess their love for each other. The sister ties a sacred thread around the wrist of the brother which signifies the long endurance of their beautiful relationship.
It is the country of Jatras (religious Processions); the Indrajatra being one of the many celebrated by the Newar community, where they worship the gods for the timely rain. The cultural diversity can be so justified in this nation that- We still do have tribes in the rainforests of the south such as the Chepangs who live nomadically, continuing their centuries-old rituals.
Culture here has differed by region, in the Karnali- the far western mountainous region often called the God’s own country as it is blessed with impeccable resources of the nature, life is quite difficult to sustain because of the difficult terrains, but still the culture and the language is so rich and their way of life so unique, that when you travel here from another part of Nepal, it seems it’s a place on the other side of the world.
With still a majority Hindu population (almost an 80 percent), we do not see any uniformity in the culture, language, and way of life even among to similar landscapes- such as the evolution of culture taken place. With already stunning mountains- home to eight of the ten world’s highest mountains; including Everest- the highest mountain, what has made the country more beautiful and lively is the people here with vastly different cultural lives yet embracing each other.
Nepal is a multi-cast, multi-ethnic, multicultural, multilingual and multi-religious country. It is a common garden of 125 nationalities. In spite of different cultures, ethnic races, languages, and religions, there is unity in diversity. We all consider Nepal as our motherland. We all speak and understand Nepali, the national language of our motherland, Nepal.
Nepal is unique in the world. It has its own beauty and pride. We all Nepalese love, respect and admire Nepal. She has given us a name, fame, and identity in the world. So we feel proud to be considered as Nepalese.
Nepal is a small country which has extreme physical and cultural diversity. It has unique landforms ranging from extreme hot Terai in the south to freezing mountain in the north. It supports varied flora and fauna. The landform ranges from 59m from sea level to the world’s highest mountain Mt. Everest (8,848 m).
There are more than 6000 rivers among which are snow fed. This geographical diversity has led to ethnic and cultural diversity in Nepal. There are more than 125 nationalities and 123 dialects. Different personalities reside in different parts of the country. They follow their own customs, cultures, and traditions making Nepal very rich in cultures and traditions.
Nepal’s linguistic diversity is equally rich. Multiple languages and a wealth of others thrive within its borders. There are at least fairly different sizeable languages and cultural groups. The predominant group, various languages of Nepal fall broadly these two: Tibeto- Burman, with one or two, small languages betraying their origin. The linguistic cacophony is matched by Nepal’s cultural pluralism.
The distinctive trait of Nepalese religion and culture is its power synthesis and assimilation. It has Wended and harmonized even the most opposing philosophies and dogmas reaching its territorial shores. Buddhism and Hinduism have been fused in Nepal quite often thereby obscuring their sectarian distinctiveness.
There are many religious rites and festivals which at the popular level of practice by illiterate masses are devoid of any sectarian character. Divinities like Ganesh, Bhairav, Kumari, Saraswati, Vajrayogini,
Mahakali are some worshiped as much by the Buddhists as by the Hindus. In the same way, there are many popular festivals in which the devout Hindu and Buddhist communities equally and fervently participate. One such festival is the chariot-dragging festival of Matsyendranath, who is understood and venerated by his followers differently, but who, in actuality, is the Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara Padmapani. It is very tempting to see depicted many leonographic features of Hindu gods, Shiva, Parwati, Vishnu, Brahma, Durga, etc.
The social universe of the people was called the ‘four varnas and thirty-six castes’. The multiplicity of these castes was vertically arranged grouping that of the cord-wearing (tagadhari) castes, at the head of which were the Brahmins and then the chetris.
The next category consisted of the enslavable liquor-drinking castes (matwali). Below then came the unslavable liquar – drinking castes, which included all the other less prominent and economically backward ethnic groups. The two other categories coming at the bottom of the vertical ladder are made up of the low unclean Hindu castes, with whom social intercourse of any sort is prohibited.
Moreover, based on castes, gender or religion and especially the practice of unsociability have been made punishable. It is the cruelest feature of the caste system. So, the caste system is slowly being abandoned due to lack of time and development in educational, legal and social awareness. Nepal is surely a common garden of all.
A culture which includes social customs, tradition, language, costumes, ornaments, music, folklore, monument, sculpture, painting, coins etc, refers to the way of life of a group of people or society. Heritage means valued objects, expressions, creations, arts etc that have been passed down from generation to generation.
Cultural heritages, in which Nepal is rich, have a historical, artistic and scientific value. Traditional ornaments, dresses, musical instruments, sculptures, architectures, productions, traditional rituals, etc are our cultural heritage. It is our duty to find, protect preserve and promote our cultural heritage.
Our society is based on the feudal system through our culture is in diversity. There is unity in social values, norms, and traditions. For instance, we all share common tradition and norm of respecting the seniors, loving the juniors. We treat parents and teachers as God.
We respect all religions, castes, and festivals. Different communities and ethnic groups having different languages, religions, customs, and traditions are living together. All these people share common features of love, peace, eternity, brotherhood and co-operation. Most of all, we love our nation and nationhood. We| inculcate the feeling of unity in diversity to be strong and preserve nationality.
Along North-South, Nepal can be divided into three distinct geographical belts: Mountain, Hill, and Terai.
People, Culture, Traditions & Festivals in Mountain Region of Nepal
The mountain region lies in the northernmost part of Nepal. It occupies 15% of the total land area of Nepal, and only 2% of it is suitable for cultivation. It lies at the altitude of, 4,877 m to 8,848 m above sea level. Its breadth from north to south varies from 25 km to 50 km and its length is 885 km.
It has the world’s highest mountain peak Sagarmatha (8,848m) and the third highest peak Kanchenjunga (8,598m). There are some 200 snow peaks above 6000 m and 13 peaks above 8000m in this region.
Nepal is a country of villages. There are more villages than in towns and cities. Therefore, it is necessary to develop the villages for the overall and balanced development of the country. For this, the active co-operation and participation of people living in villages are necessary.
Other important snow peaks of this region are Makalu, Choyu, Ama Dablam, Lhotse, Dorje Lakpa, Annapurna, Dhaulagiri, Machhapuchhere, etc. There are many pastures, gorges, passes and small lakes in this region. Almost all the big and perennial rivers running through the country originate from this region. This belt is often very cold and snowy in winter. It has a coniferous forest of pine, spruce, etc.
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