About Nepalese Culture – A Magical Country
Sunday, 11 February 2018 | Kate
Did you know many of our luscious hippie clothing comes from exotic, faraway Nepal? We're due to visit our suppliers over there later this year, taking our little daughter with us, and it's going to be such a thrill. We're already excited about the prospect, and we thought we'd begin preparing for our Nepalese odyssey with a post exploring the country's unique culture. As it turns out, the Nepalese really like to mix things up, and they do it in the most charming and original way.
A varied, exciting and colourful cultural blend
The culture of Nepal is rich in variety, multi-dimensional and diverse, influenced by a potent mix of Indian, Mongolian and Tibetan culture. According to Rajesh Poudel, who is Nepalese, the people of Nepal are hard working and adaptable. They are famously hospitable, amicable, humble and gentle but don't depend on anyone. They are tolerant of other people's beliefs and opinions, and respectful of their elders and family, whose interests they put first. They are only moderately religious but very patriotic, and adore music and dancing. In common with plenty of Brits, they have a fiery passion for football and cricket.
Religions in Nepal – A unique mix
The nation's 2001 census revealed just over 80% of Nepalese are Hindu and 11% or so Buddhist. But in reality plenty of people practice a blend of the two, sometimes with extra animist traditions thrown in: the belief that objects, places and animals possess their own spiritual essence. Just over 3% were Islamic and 3.6% followed the local Kirant religion. Less than half a percent of people at the time claimed to be Christians.
Hindu and Buddhist traditions in Nepal go back more than two thousand years. Lumbini is where Buddha was born, and Pashupatinath temple in Kathmandu is one of the oldest and best-known temples dedicated to the Hindu god Shiva. Tantric traditions are also deeply-rooted in Nepal, including animal sacrifices: water buffalo, goat, sheep, chicken and ducks meet a sticky end. Cows, however, are sacred and never, ever sacrificed.
A country with 123 languages... and counting!
123 languages are spoken in Nepal, a rich linguistic heritage rooted in three groups of languages: Indo-Aryan, Tibeto-Burman, and indigenous. There's Nepali and Maithili, Bhojpuri and Tharu, Tamang and Nepal Bhasa, Magar, Bajjika and a load more. Nepali is the official national language and that's the language locals use to communicate with each other, which means many of the people are at least bi-lingual, often multi-lingual.
A place where song and dance are embedded deeply into society
Lord Shiva inspired the dances of Nepal, according to the Hindu faith. He first performed his legendary Tandava dance high in the mighty Himalayas. Nepal's indigenous dances vary in style and the costumes worn also vary depending on the area, the altitude, and the unique religious make-up of the villages and towns. The Dishka dance, for example, is performed at weddings and famous for its incredibly intricate foot and arm movements. There's the Tharu dance, where people brandish sticks, and the dramatic peacock dance is an amazing sight.
Traditional songs tend to be about harvesting of crops, getting married, war, and love, proving that wherever you live on our lovely blue planet, humankind's obsessions remain much the same!
Some Nepalese festivals last for days, and mostly have a religious theme. Dashain or Dusshera in late September is a biggie, as is the Mohani, Tihar (also called Diwali), Holi, Saraswati Puja, Rakshabandhan, Bhai Dooj, Sambat, Buddha Purnima, Maha Shivaratri, Mani Rimdu and many, many more – it sounds like there's always something to celebrate in Nepal.
The mighty Himalayas themselves
The Himalayas are the backdrop to all of this - more than fifty vast peaks - and they're simply breathtaking, created by plate tectonics when the Indian continent slowly crashed into the Tibetan plateau, long before mankind existed. Everest herself is almost five miles high, the biggest peak in the world and by all accounts one of the most extraordinary sights a human being can experience. We're especially looking forward to that – there's nothing quite like feeling totally and utterly awe-inspired for keeping life, the universe and everything in perspective.
Next time we'll explore Nepal's thriving clothing manufacture industry. Come back later this month to read all about it. In the meantime, happy shopping. Spring's on the horizon and we have some stunning items in stock to inspire you!