Nepalese Society

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Nepalese People & Society

Nepali People & SocietyTony Rebollo

PeopleEthnic Groups: 125 reported in 2011Chhettri, Brahman-Hill, Magar, among highestLanguages: Nepali 44.6%, but 123 languages were reported as mother tongue in 2011ReligionHindu 81.3%Buddhist 9%Muslim 4.4%Kirant, Christian, and others below 3% of population

PeoplePopulation: 30,986,975 (2014)Median Age: 22.9 yearsPopulation Growth Rate: 1.82%

PeopleUrban Population: 17%Kathmandu: 1.015 MillionLife expectancy: 67.19 yearsExposure to improved drinking water: 88.1%Exposure to improved sanitation: 36.7%Risk of Major Infectious Diseases: HighBacterial diarrhea, hepatitis A and E, typhoid, malaria, dengue feverMost rural people are sustenance farmers70% of households have less than 1 hectare and may depend on plots too small for food

PeopleLiteracy (ages 15< can read/write): 57.4%Male: 71.1%Female: 46.7%Child labor (ages 5-14): 2,467,549Education72% from government schools failed last years School Leaving Certificate examCivil war damaged education systemTeacher absenteeism is commonEducation has improved, new education official is bringing change


Caste SystemAffects family life, food, dress, jobs, cultureBrought to Nepal by IndiansBased on heredityCastesBrahmin (priests, scholars, educators)Kshatriya (soldiers, governors, kings)Vaishya (Merchants, farmers, cattle herders)Sudra (laborers, artisans, service providers)36 castesDalit: untouchablesPunishments for breaking ones caste are illegal nowCaste system technically no longer exists, but can still be seenArranged Marriage

Customs & CourtesiesGreeting: namaste with palms held togetherTo be formal or respectful add ji to end of namenamaste, Jonn-jiYes: tilt head to one side and back other wayNo: hold one hand up in front, palm forwards, swivel wrist subtlyPoint with chin rather than finger

Customs & CourtesiesOnce food has touch lips, its polluted for othersWaterfall drinksDont eat off other plates or offer food youve taken a bite ofDont touch cooked food unless you bought it alreadyIf eating with hands, only use rightDont wipe your mouth or pass food with the left handGive & receive with right hands onlyOffer money or gifts with both hands or the right while the left touches the wrist

Customs & CourtesiesMen: always wear a shirt and pants if possible in public (shorts on trails)Looking clean and well groomed shows respectforehead is most sacred part of body, impolite to touchFeet are unclean, dont put them up or point soles at anyoneHandshaking has increased, but not all women feel comfortable shaking a mans hand

Customs & CourtesiesHindu templesUsually off-limits to nonbelieversTake off shoesNo photos unless you askLeave rupees in donation boxDont wear leatherBuddhist templesWalk around Buddhist stupas and monuments clockwisePrivate homesFruit or sweets are good gifts, but dont expect thanksTake shoes off or follow example of hostEat first, take less than you can eatDont throw trash or scraps in the family hearth

Customs & CourtesiesToutsLone entrepreneurs and middlemenIgnore or ask nicelyDont give to street children and watch your wallet

FoodDal Bhat (pulses and rice) is main food of Nepal, eaten twice a dayOther Nepalese recipes usually include different spices like ginger, garlic, pepper, cumin, chiles, or yak butterHigher castes: vegetarian and do not drinkLower castes may drink and some eat pork and beefRestaurants werent popular but are increasing due to tourismMasu: spiced or curried meat with gravy

ArchitectureUrban areas have shikhara temples, buddhist stupas, palaces, brick houses, and some Western-style buildingsRural architecture is simple, usually made of the materials available