Nepal is well known for its Himalayan mountains, particularly the world’s highest mountain above sea level: Mt. Everest. Aside from the picturesque landscapes, though, the country also has a very distinctive culture, as well as devout people. Some traditions may appear strange to us Filipinos, but witnessing it really made me appreciate the diversity. Although I was a bit shocked at first, I eventually realized that people live differently in ways they consider appropriate to their faith, location, and circumstances.
4 Interesting Facts About Nepal That I Will Never Forget
Nepal is Dominantly Hindu
Although I spotted a few Buddhist monks in Nepal, the country is dominantly Hindu. Hinduism worships multiple gods and goddesses – one for each virtue and occurrence. As a matter of fact, our Nepalese guide admitted she cannot identify all of them. For the sake of general information, Hindus praise three main deities: Brahma, the creator; Vishnu, the preserver; and Shiva, the destroyer.
During our visit, Nepal celebrated one of the major Hindu festivals called “Tihar” or “Festival of Lights”. It is observed with colorful lights, Marigolds, and Rangolis (a colorful pattern made on the floor or ground using dry flour, colored sand, rice, or flower petals) while children sing around the neighborhood. The festival worships the Hindu Goddess of Wealth, “Laxmi”, and people believe it brings good luck to their households and businesses.
They Burn Their Dead in Public
I witnessed an “Antyeshti”, a Hindu cremation ceremony, at Pashupatinath Temple in Kathmandu. The temple is a sacred complex dedicated to the Lord Shiva and was included in the list of UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites. The rite includes cleansing and burning the dead body in public at the ghats near the holy Bagmati river.
Our guide explained that this is done to release the soul from its physical home and send it back to its rightful place. The personal belongings and ashes of the deceased are thrown to the river, while pious Hindus wash themselves with the same water.
They Live in a Traditional Patriarchal Society.
Women are not allowed to participate in cremation ceremonies because they are believed to be too emotional, and this might scare the spirits. Women are also exiled from their houses during their menstrual period. Despite the ban, this is still practiced in some rural areas of Nepal where women are considered impure and are seen as sources of bad luck. On the plus side, modernization has helped improve the roles of Nepalese women in certain communities.
Mayhem Seems to be the Norm.
The Nepalese government is continuously trying hard to become a more developed country. Sadly, poverty still runs rampant in the country, public transportation remains to be underdeveloped, street vendors and animals blocking the roads are a normal occurrence, and traffic rules appear to be ineffective. Even our guide admitted that vehicular accidents in Nepal are part of their routine. Still, the people there seem to live in contentment and resiliency.
Nepal is a landlocked country in the Himalayas surrounded by China, India, and Bhutan. It should not just be hailed for its topography, but also for its heritage and traditions.
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