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Visiting Nepal, mind these points if you don’t want to offend hosts’ culture

File: A group of foreign tourists visiting Nepal

Travelling to Nepal can be a great holiday experience with all its natural and cultural beauty. But your trip to experience the mountain ranges and the diverse communities might be affected by some cultural gaps if you are not aware of them.

Nepal carries a blend of different traditions, ethnicities, and religions that make the country special. With that comes a few things that, because of cultural differences, might be considered inappropriate.

So, to avoid such cultural inappropriateness and accentuate your trip, here are some things to avoid in Nepal for a fun and memorable time.

1. While eating

Photo: Pexels/ Roman Odintsov
  • Avoid eating food with your left hand because it is considered culturally inappropriate. The right hand is meant for passing food and wiping our mouth while the left one is used to stabilise the plate. 
  • Beef in Nepal is strictly prohibited among Hindus. It is available in some restaurants, so try limiting your consumption there only.
  • Avoid yawning, stretching and putting hands on your head while eating.
  • Do not share food on the same plate or put your food on other’s plate after eating.
  • Do not leave food on your plate.
  • Try not to leave your seat after finishing your meal if you are in a group. It is more important when there are elders.
  • Pick your plate and wash them, unless you are in a hotel, eating outside or instructed otherwise.

2. While talking

Photo: Pexels/ fauxels
  • Say ‘Namaste’ and avoid ‘hello’ or ‘hi’. It is not a big deal, but greeting with namaste will put a smile on one’s face.
  • Try talking softly while asking or speaking; it is considered rather polite.
  • Avoid addressing people with their first names. Instead, you can use ‘brother’ or ‘sister’, or ‘sir’ or ‘madam’.
  • Never point at someone while speaking or addressing them.
  • Try not to bad-mouth others. It is considered rude and people will have a hard time trusting you.
  • Wait for your turn to speak or speak only when spoken to if you are in a new environment. Do not interrupt people while they are talking, especially elders.
  • Never touch someone’s head or stretch your feet towards a person.

3. While entering homes/ temples

Photo: Pexels/ Gary Barnes
  • Before entering one’s house or temple, remove your shoes. Nepalis believe shoes are dirty and should not be worn in clean spaces like houses and temples.
  • Use your right foot to enter, it is considered a good omen.
  • Leather items are strictly prohibited in Hindu temples, so take off any leather items before entering.
  • Walk around the temple in a clockwise direction, from your right. Maintain this as much as possible even when you meet a temple anywhere.
  • Avoid photographing holy sites if it is prohibited.
  • Avoid entering or touching temples and religious idols if you are on your periods.

4. While in public

  • Avoid wearing short or body revealing dresses in public. Dress decently to avoid any kind of staring or judgement.
  • Clothes having obscene words or graphics should also be avoided in public.
  • Never shout or raise a voice while in public unnecessarily. 
  • Avoid any kind of public display of affection like kissing, hugging, etc.
  • Do not openly carry any sort of weapons like knives or guns.

5. While giving/receiving gifts

Photo: Pexels/ Julia Larson
  • Never give gifts or money to Nepali people with your left hand. Use your right hand as much as possible.
  • Avoid opening gifts immediately after receiving them, unless they ask you to.
  • Try not to show any sort of dissatisfaction after receiving gifts. It is rude and people will think you are spoiled.
  • Never openly give money. Include it in an envelope or wrap it in paper before giving. You, nonetheless, can make payments openly.

6. At tourist spots

File: Chinese tourists in Nepal
  • Do not litter the places.
  • Do not vandalise tourist sites and properties on their premises.
  • Take permissions and pay designated fees while entering any site.
  • Avoid travelling or going outside alone, especially at nights. 
  • Avoid provoking any wild animal or hunting them.

7. A few others

Photo: Pexels/ Edward Jenner
  • If someone sneezes before going outside, they should not continue the trip as it is considered a bad omen. In such a case, utter the name of your god, wishing for good luck.
  • Do not leave shoes turned upside down, that is also considered bad luck.
  • You should step out with your right foot before embarking on a trip or any auspicious work. It is considered bad luck to start with your left foot.
  • Do not place empty utensils at the door as it is also considered a bad omen to look at such before leaving the house. Pots are filled with water at the door for auspicious occasions.
  • Do not call out a person leaving or turn back after being called as it is considered bad luck to turn back after leaving.
  • Do not ask people where they are going to directly. Just avoid the word ‘where’. You can rephrase your question like, “It seems you are on a long trip” or “I think you are in hurry”.

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