Teleconference 1 Refugees Culture, Religion, Expectations


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Teleconference 1 Refugees Culture, Religion, Expectations

  1. 1. Understanding Nepali Culture S e pte mbe r 20, 2009
  2. 2. Food • Nepali people eat 2 main meals a day consisting of rice, lentil soup, curried vegetables, and sometimes meat. They have one meal about 9-10 AM and the other usually in the late evening around 7-9 PM. • In Hindu culture the cow is considered holy. Never feed them beef. It would be a great offense. • If you are invited to a Nepali home for a meal you will find that the food will not come right away but later in the evening. In Nepal once the food has arrived and eaten most people go home. If you have Nepali people for a meal and feed them right away they may see this as the sign for them to leave.
  3. 3. Food • Nepali food is similar to Indian cuisine. They are not used to lots of bread, pasta, and cheese with their meals. If inviting Nepalis over for dinner, a simple meal of chicken, rice, vegetables, and fruit would be welcomed. • If something you serve is not eaten please don’t be worried or offended. Some Nepalis may not eat things because of their religious dietary restrictions, but at the same time they won’t expect you to know what they are.
  4. 4. Food • Eating is done with the right hand. They will eat as much as you put on their plate so start slow and add as needed. It is good manners to ask them if they would like a second helping. • Nepalis are not accustomed to the American custom of potluck suppers. Neither would they think to offer to bring something along to eat if you invite them to your home for a meal. • It is customary to bring a small gift of fruit, candy, or flowers when visiting a home. If you give a wrapped gift it will probably not be opened in front of you. Most gifts are opened later in private.
  5. 5. Relationships • Namaste is both a greeting and a farewell, combined with a Japanese-like folding of the hands in front of you (but without bowing). Greeting Nepali friends in this way will mean a lot to them. • Affection between men and women, even married people, is seldom expressed. • Public kissing, hugging, and handholding are offensive to most.
  6. 6. Relationships • It is best to avoid touching a Nepali of the opposite sex. It is acceptable, though, for two men or women to hold hands while walking or talking. • Do not attempt to hug a Nepali. It can make them quite uncomfortable. • Feet are considered unclean. They should not be pointed at anyone. Never step over anyone and always move your feet to let people avoid stepping over you.
  7. 7. Concept of Time • Time is very flexible. A person may show up to a meeting or appointment an hour or more late. Try not to be too focused on the clock if you want to relate to any Asian peoples. • Invitations often arrive at the last moment. Don’t be surprised or offended. Even if you are busy a short appearance at a function means a lot to them.
  8. 8. Other Things to Know • Nepali clothing is conservative. If you want to give or get clothes for your new friends be very, very modest. • Shoes are considered filthy. Most Nepalis take their shoes off at the door. If you want to keep from offending them, take your shoes off when you enter their home. •
  9. 9. Other Things to Know • Bargaining for a price is the usual in the Nepal context. Set prices in the store will be a shock for them. • The left hand is never used to pass or accept things, whether food at the table or money with a shopkeeper. Left hands are commonly used for the cleaning oneself after using the toilet. Using the right hand or both hands to pass and accept things is fine. • people.
  10. 10. Other Things to Know • In many of the above matters, younger people would be more aware of Western customs and more likely to use them. After the refugees have lived in America for some time, they will become used to American ways and may adopt some of them. • The book Culture Shock Nepal by Jon Burbank has many good insights as to Nepali culture and would be helpful for anyone who may be working with Nepali people.p
  11. 11. Reference “Thoughts about Nepali Culture from a Western Mindset:” by Glen Anderson. •.
  12. 12. Understanding Hinduism S e pte mbe r 20, 2009
  13. 13. General Information • Hinduism originated in India. • With a billion followers, it is the world's third largest religion. • The major and most popular Hindu texts include the Bhagavad Gita, the Upanishads, and the epics of Ramayana and Mahabharata.
  14. 14. Foundational Beliefs • That god is one absolute being called Brahman. This being has multiple manifestations, the main ones being Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva - creator, preserver, and destroyer respectively. • Karma – the law of cause and effect. • Dharma – conformity to religious law, custom, duty.
  15. 15. Foundational Beliefs • Yoga – a course of physical and mental disciplines for attaining liberation from the material world and union of the self with the Supreme Being. • Bhakti Yoga (the path of love and devotion) • Karma Yoga (the path of right action) • Rāja Yoga (the path of meditation) • Jñāna Yoga (the path of wisdom) • Reincarnation - the rebirth of the soul into a new body. • The desire for liberation from the cycle of births and deaths. • Reincarnation – the rebirth of the soul into a new body.
  16. 16. Nepali Practices • Many Nepali families will have images of their gods within their home. • Mothers are often the main devotees of the faith. They will often have a place for daily puja (worship) within the home where they will offer food, incense, and flowers in worship. • Spirits are believed to not only dwell in people, but also in animals and lower life forms such things as trees. Therefore all of these are worshiped within Nepal.
  17. 17. Nepali Practices • Nepalis will give their blessing to each other by means of a tika, often made from rice and red dye. A small amount of this mixture is put on the forehead of the person that is being blessed. The person of greater respect gives the blessing. For example a grandfather would give a tika to his grandchildren. • Some Nepalis will visit Hindu temples on a regular basis to worship.
  18. 18. References • “Hinduism for Beginners” by Subhamoy Das, • “Hinduism”,
  19. 19. Expectations of the Refugees S e pte mbe r 20, 2009
  20. 20. False Information • From Hollywood: • All Americans are rich. • There are guns all over and it is very dangerous. • From leadership that wants all of the refugees to stay in Nepal with hopes of going back to Bhutan: • They are being brought over here to do hard labor. • They would continue to live in refugee cam over ps here.
  21. 21. Unrealistic Expectations • Life is always great for everyone who lives in America. • The American government will take care of all of their needs like they have been taken care of the last 17 years while living in the camps. • The more highly educated ones may expect to find high paying jobs over here.
  22. 22. Realistic Concerns • That their children will lose their culture. • That it will difficult to learn the language. • That they won’t be able to get good jobs.
  23. 23. Thank you