The location of Nepal between India and Tibet, the variety of the ethnic groups who inhabit the country, the geographic isolation and the myriad of languages spoken give shape to a complex mosaic of traditions and beliefs, which make it difficult to define “the Nepalese people”
As regards the religious sphere, the Nepalese are very flexible and pragmatic and above all tolerant, in the country the religious tensions are almost nonexistent.
The world outlook of the Nepalese people is dominated by “puja”, which is both a prayer and an offer and by the awareness that the Gods are not remote and abstract concepts but living and present entities, which can influence human affairs from various points of view. The Nepalese perceive the divine in everything, as evidenced by the courtesy expression “Namaste”, which literally means “I salute the divine within you” and by the legends related to spirits and divinities living in the trees, near the sacred confluence of the rivers (dhoban) and on the peaks of the mountains.
The life of Nepalese people is regulated by rights and duties related to the family, the ethnic group and the belonging caste.
The Nepalese youth, especially in urban areas, is increasingly attracted by western values and lifestyle, but despite this the vast majority of the population still lives following traditional customs and principles.
In most ethnic groups, united and extended families live under one roof, but the traditional family dimension has been disturbed by the great migration, which brought hundreds of thousands of Nepalese to look for work away from home, not only in Kathmandu or Terai, but also abroad, in India, Malaysia or in the Persian Gulf States.
Arranged marriages are still the norm in the Hindu Nepalese society and generally are contracted by people belonging to the same ethnic group and same caste, even if nowadays the number of love marriages is increasing.
For the Nepalese women not having children is inconceivable. The birth of a child is a very important event in Hindu family, since some religious rites (such as the lighting of the funeral pyre) can be only performed by the eldest son.
When entering rooms in Nepalese homes it is polite to remove your shoes. While some westernized Nepalese might not be dong it, the best thing is to watch what others are doing. Many Hindu temples do not permit westerners to enter but they are quite free to watch from outside. Always walk clockwise around Buddhist stupas, chortens or mani walls. Everybody must remove their shoes and any items made from leather such as belts and bags before entering a Buddhist or Hindu temple.