Culture of Nepal
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The culture of Nepal is rich and unique. The cultural heritage of Nepal has evolved over the centuries. This multi-dimensional heritage encompasses the diversities of Nepal's ethnic, tribal, and social groups, and it manifests in music and dance; art and craft; folklore and folktales; languages and literature; philosophy and religion; festivals and celebration; foods and drinks.
Legends state that dances in the Indian subcontinent originated in the abode of Lord Shiva — the Himalayas and the Himalayan Kingdom of Nepal — where he performed the tandava dance. This indicates that dance traditions of Nepal are very ancient. With altitudes and ethnicity, the dances of Nepal slightly change in style as well as in the costumes. The Dishka, a dance performed at weddings, includes intricate footwork and arm movements. Accompanying music and musical instruments change in tune with the themes, which revolve around topics like harvesting of crops, marriage rites, war stories, a lonely girl’s yearning for her love, and several other themes and stories from everyday life in the villages.
As per the 2011 census, 123 languages are spoken in Nepal. Nepal's linguistic heritage has evolved from three major language groups: Indo-Aryan, Tibeto-Burman, and indigenous. The major languages of Nepal (percent spoken as mother tongue) are Nepali (44.6%), Maithili (11.7%), Bhojpuri (6%), Tharu (5.8%), Tamang (5.1%), Nepal Bhasa (3.2%), Magar (3%) and Bajjika (3%).1
Nepali, written in Devanagari script, is the official national language and serves as lingua franca among Nepalese ethno-linguistic groups. English is spoken in Nepal as a second language. Extinct languages of Nepal include Kusunda and Waling.
The 2001 census identified 80.6% of the population being Hindu. Buddhism was practiced by about 11% of the population (although many people labelled Hindu or Buddhist often practice a syncretic blend of Hinduism, Buddhism, and/or animist traditions). About 3.2% practice Islam and 3.6% of the population follows the indigenous Kirant religion. Christianity is practiced officially by less than 0.5%.
Hindu and Buddhist traditions in Nepal go back more than two millennia. In Lumbini, Buddha was born, and Pashupatinath temple, Kathamandu, is an old and famous Shiva temple of Hindus. Nepal has several other temples and Buddhist monasteries, as well as places of worship of other religious groups. Traditionally, Nepalese philosophical thoughts are ingrained with the Hindu and Buddhist philosophical ethos and traditions, which include elements of Kashmir Shaivism, Nyingma school of Tibetan Buddhism, works of Karmacharyas of Bhaktapur, and tantric traditions. Tantric traditions are deep rooted in Nepal, including the practice of animal sacrifices. Five types of animals, always male, are considered acceptable for sacrifice: water buffalo, goats, sheep, chickens, and ducks. Llamas are very sacred animals and are never considered acceptable for sacrifice.
Several of the festivals of Nepal last from one to several days. Dashain is the longest and the most important festival of Nepal. Generally Dashain falls in late September to mid-October, right after the end of the monsoon season. It is "a day of Victory over Demons". The Newars celebrate the festival as Mohani. Tihar or Swanti is another important festival of Nepal. New Year's Day of the lunar calendar Nepal Sambat occurs at this time.
Other important festivals include Buddha Jayanti (the celebration of the birth of Buddha), Maha Shivaratri (a festival of Lord Shiva), and during Maha Shivaratri festivities, some people consume excessive drinks and smoke charas. Sherpas, mostly located at higher altitudes and in the Mount Everest region, celebrate Mani Rimdu, for the good of the world.
Most festivals include dancing and music, as well as all kinds of local delicacies. A variety of foods are consumed during festivals and on special occasions. If one has to taste Nepali food, Newa cuisine is a must have; a festive meal, like one served during a marriage, is a real treat, and include vegetarian and non-vegetarian dishes.
The Sagan ceremony is the ritualized presentation of five food items (boiled egg, smoked fish, meat, lentil cake and rice wine) to a person which is done to bring good fortune as per Tantric tradition.
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- Nepalese architecture
- Languages of Nepal
- Nepalese cuisine
- Religion in Nepal
- Media of Nepal
- Music of Nepal
- Nepali literature
- Nepal Bhasa literature
- Chobhar (sculpture garden)
- Newa art
- National Museum of Nepal
- Traditional Newar clothing
- "Major highlights". Central Bureau of Statistics. 2013. p. 4. Retrieved 1 November 2013.
- Bhandari, Bishnu, ed. (1997). Inventory of heritage sites in Nepal. Kathmandu: IUCN Nepal. Retrieved April 15, 2011.
- Nepal Encyclopedia culture category
- Culture, religions and festivals of Nepal
- Ethnic groups of Nepal
- Languages of Nepal
- Literature of Nepal
- Nepal Travel information
- Photographs of Heritage Sites of Nepal