Nepal Customs and Etiquette

The Dos & Don’ts in Nepal with country’s customs are included. Some listings are in detail so you would know what to expect when you are in the country.

It is preciously because of unique customs, our earth is beautiful. We advise you to familiarize yourself with these customs as listed below which will be useful, even more if you a traveler to the region. Keep it to yourself,  even if you dislike certain things like blowing horns. As with any culture, there is often a good reason why certain things are done the way they should be.

a view of pokhara

a view of Pokhara city from a hill

 

Etiquette

  • Take off your shoes before entering a temple or a home.
  • Ask for permission before entering a Hindu temple.
  • Taking photographs inside the temples are prohibited, ask permission if you must.
  • Nepali people are friendly by nature,  have a genuine interest in them. Talk to them and be friendly as you travel.
  • Public displays of affection such as kissing may be considered offensive, avoid such activities.
  • Say hello or Namaskar if anyone is initiating a dialogue with you. The form of greeting in Nepal is Namaste or Namaskar.
  • Never touch a lady – you may accept handshake offered by both sex male or female, but never offer your hand first to a women. Instead do a `Namaskar’ for hand shakes. Hand shakes are gentle not firm as in other cultures.
  • Roads are narrow and crowded and drivers use horns a lot to signal pedestrians. Be ready to hear horn noise and accept it .
  • Someone may ask you, Khana Khanu Bhayo (have you eaten) ? Its a form of greeting. Go ahead say `you ate one (Khaya)’ if you are busy, or you might join a Nepali dinning table.
  • Wiggle your head from side to side for YES, and nod your head up and down for NO, if you are communicate in Nepali language.
  • It is common to see same any sex walking together hand in hand or with arms around each other. It is a generally accepted friendship gesture in Nepal.
  • When you are in a Nepali dining table,  don’t get offended if a mother offers you repeatedly. She is happy when everyone has eaten good, so take a little and say thank you.
  • Elders are called by their title but not by their names. Never call your daddy by his name nor do you call your mummy by her name, it’s considered rude. When you visit your friend’s parent, you also don’t use their names. Brothers and Sisters also do not use their names while calling each other.
  • Bargaining is a common business practice in the country. Exercise common sense.
  • When you touch someone with your feet accidentally, you pay back the respect by tapping the person’s shoulder, and then your forehead.
  • Call people by title to be polite and respectful. For example, Say Dad, Mum, Sister, Brother, Uncle instead of their names unless he or she is your friend.
  • Never tell a girl you don’t know that she is beautiful or compliment on her features. Girls consider it impolite and rude as if you were flirting.
  • It is common to slurp tea and other hot drinks in restaurants and homes. Do not get offended or say something rude.
  • Superstition is a part of Nepalese life. Avoid spilling rice on the floor (specially cooked rice) and walking on it. It is an insult to the Hindu Goddess of Food.
  • Accept the tika given to you before going on a long journey. A sip of yogurt may also be offered. It’s a blessing for your health and safe journey.
  • Do not call people fat even if it considered safe to say so in Nepal and other malnourished countries.
  • Expect time moves slow in Nepal. So expect delay at all levels and plan your activities ahead of the schedule.
  • For a respectful appearances in special ceremonies wear a Nepali cap for male and a tika for female to go with your formal dresses.
  • Visitors to Nepal should avoid using bad language, and remember most city people do understand spoken English. Vulgar languages are not common in Nepal.
  • Licking your fingers is a bad manner in Nepal, avoid it for your own concern for health.
  • Blowing your nose in front of people is considered rude. If you must blow, do it quietly and or alone.
  • Most Nepalese eat their meal by hand specially for the Nepali food Dal Bhat and Tarkari. Wash your hands thoroughly and enjoy your food.
  • Do not offer foods from the plate you are eating. Sharing your plate you’ve already started eating is called (Juthow )and it’s rude.
  • Never criticize the job of a priest, even if you don’t agree. You may see them working during certain occasions such as marriage and nepali festivals such as Janaipurnima.
  • Traditional Nepalese marriage is a deal between the parents. The boy, his mother and his father will come to see the girl and her parents. She will offer them tea. He will get to see her for a while, and the deal is made by the parents. If its not good enough, they will go search for another deal.
  • People who don’t look like the ordinary Nepalese will get lots of looks and even constant staring. Specially when you are away from the main cities like Kathmandu, you will be noticed constantly by many people including beautiful Nepalese kids whose curious eyes will be all around you. Smile and Enjoy
  • Nepalese don’t eat beef, but buffalo meat is eaten by some people.

 

Many of the Nepalese customs are based on traditions carried on by generations. Everyday Nepalese practice customs not as part of a religion, although many of the customs have a roots to Hindu and Buddhist religion.