Nepal Hiking

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Nepal

Nepal

Nepal, erstwhile mountain kingdom, has now become a democratic republic country. This Himalayan country is considered one of the best destinations for trekking and mountaineering in the world. It is probably the only country in the world which attracts thousands of trekkers and mountaineers every year to explore and experience the natural hidden treasures. Wedged between India and Tibet (China), this small, mountainous country is home to half of the world’s 8000m peaks including Mount Everest. This small country offers an incredible variety of eco-system, thick tropical forests teeming with flora and fauna, thundering rivers, ice-blue lakes, forested hills, arid deserts and frozen valleys all within a distance of 147,000 sq kms with a diverse range of topography and climates, from the freezing high Himalaya to the hot and humid plains of the south.

The temples and historical palaces full of architectural values give glimpse of the craftsmanship and artistic ingenuity of the people then and now. Numerous religious and social festivals are celebrated all year round, as these festivals are the inevitable and aesthetical part of the religious and traditional heritage of the people from time immemorial. Smiling and welcoming attributes of the people add more meaning to the hospitality to give the guests the feeling that homely atmosphere is waiting for them in this beautiful and enchanting land of myths and legends.

People of Nepal

Nepal is a melting pot of many castes and ethnic groups of people. With the population of twenty-five million, all these diverse cast and ethnic groups of people live in different regions, following different costumes and speaking different dialects. However, their common language is Nepali.

Each region is represented by particular ethnic groups whose agriculture and lifestyles are adapted to suit the physical constraints of their environment. In the Himalayan region, the people are Monologian of Tibetan origin. They are known as bhote in Nepali. In the east of the midlands region, we find Kirati people known as Rai, Limbu ethnic groups. They speak Tibeto-Burman Language. In the Terai region, we find Tharus of Hindu origin, Muslim and many other ethnic groups of people.

Anthropologists divide the people of Nepal into about 90 ethnic groups or castes with their own culture and traditions. Each ethnic group is proud of their heritage. Many people use the name of their ethnic group, caste or clan as their surname. The caste system is based on occupational works such as Brahmins (Hindu Priests), Chhetris (farmers in the hills and soldiers), Newars (the original inhabitants of Kathmandu Valley), Thakalis, Gurungs, Rais, Limbus, Tamangs, Magars, Potters, butchers, blacksmiths, cobblers, goldsmiths, clothes washers, etc.

Culture

Customs and traditions differ from one part of Nepal to another. A conglomeration lies in capital city Kathmandu where cultures are blending to form a national identity. KathmanduValley has served as the country’s cultural metropolis since the unification of Nepal in the 18th Century.A prominent factor in a Nepali’s everyday life is religion. Adding color to the lives of Nepalis are festivals the year round which they celebrate with much pomp and joy. Food plays an important role in the celebration of these festivals.

Religion

Nepal was declared a secular country by the Parliament on May 18, 2006. Religions practiced in Nepal are categorized as follows: Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam, Christianity, Jainism, Sikhism, Bon, ancestor worship and animism. The majority of Nepalis are either Hindus or Buddhism. The two have co-existed in harmony through centuries.

Buddha is widely worshipped by both Buddhists and Hindus of Nepal. The five Dhyani Buddhas; Vairochana, Akshobhaya, Rathasambhava, Amitabha and Amoghasiddhi, represent the five basic elements: earth, fire, water, air and ether. Buddhist philosophy conceives these deities to be the manifestations of Sunya or absolute void. Mahakaala and Bajrayogini is Vajrayana Buddhist deities worshipped by Hindus as well.

Hindu Nepalis worship the ancient Vedic gods. Bramha the Creator, Vishnu the Preserver and Shiva the Destroyer, are worshipped as the Supreme Hindu Trinity. People pray to the Shiva Linga or the phallic symbol of Lord Shiva in most Shiva temples. Shakti, the dynamic element in the female counterpart of Shiva, is highly revered and feared. Mahadevi, Mahakali, Bhagabati, Ishwari are some of the names given. Kumari, the Virgin Goddess, also represents Shakti.Other popular deities are Ganesh for luck, Saraswati for knowledge, Lakshmi for wealth and Hanuman for protection. Krishna, believed to be the human incarnation of Lord Vishnu is also worshipped widely. Hindu holy scripts Bhagawat Gita, Ramayan and Mahabharat are widely read in Nepal. Vedas, Upanishads and other holy scriptures are read by well learned Brahmin Pundits during special occasions.

Customs

The diversity in Nepal in terms of ethnicity again makes room for various sets of customs. Most of these customs go back to the Hindu, Buddhist or other religious traditions. Among them, the rules of marriage are particularly interesting. Traditional marriages call for deals arranged by parents after the boy or girl come of age.

Nepalis do not eat beef. There are several reasons for this, one being that the Hindus worship cow. Cow is also the national animal of Nepal. Another interesting concept among Nepalis is division of pure and impure. “Jutho” referring to food or material touched by another’s mouth directly or indirectly, is considered impure by Nepalis. Nepalis consider cow dung to be pure for cleansing purposes. During menstruation women are considered impure and hence, are kept in seclusion until their fourth day purification bath.Nepal is a patriarchal society. Men usually go out to work while women are homemakers. However, in cities, roles can differ. Most Nepalis abide by the caste system in living habits and marriage. Rural Nepal is mostly agrarian, while some aspects of urban life carry glitz and glamour of the ultra-modern world.


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