S e pte mbe r 20, 2009
• 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.
• 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.
• 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
• 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
• 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.
• 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
• 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
• 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.
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
• 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.
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.
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.
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
“Thoughts about Nepali Culture from a Western Mindset:”
by Glen Anderson.
• Hinduism originated in India.
• With a billion followers, it is the world's third largest
• The major and most popular Hindu texts include the
Bhagavad Gita, the Upanishads, and the epics of
Ramayana and Mahabharata.
• That god is one absolute being called Brahman. This
being has multiple manifestations, the main ones being
Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva - creator, preserver, and
• Karma – the law of cause and effect.
• Dharma – conformity to religious law, custom, duty.
• 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
• Reincarnation – the rebirth of the soul into a new
• Many Nepali families will have images of their gods within
• 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
• 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.
• 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
• Some Nepalis will visit Hindu temples on a regular basis to
• “Hinduism for Beginners” by Subhamoy Das, About.com
• “Hinduism”, wikipedia.org
S e pte mbe r 20, 2009
• 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
• 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.
• 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.