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Blog – Explore Himalaya Travel & Adventure

Few Cultural and religious Faux Pas in Nepal

Clockwise circumambulating at Boudhanath

Clockwise circumambulating at Boudhanath

The land of Gautama Buddha is also the land brave Gurkhas. Nepal, a unique destination where every corner contrasts to another is one of the fascinating travel destinations of South Asia. Nepalese can adopt the cultural changes quite easily and regarding the foreign visitors, Nepalese treat them very respectfully. Mostly in the urban areas while greeting, Nepalese are fine with handshakes or hellos but appreciate a Namaste gesture, they do not mind eating with left hands and the most interesting part, they smile for the criticism of Nepalese politics and bureaucracy. However, 21st century Nepal has few areas in which they expect some respect. It is not like that offending a Nepali would put you in the position of facing a Gurkha- Nepalese are also very forgetful people.

Religiously Nepal is the origin of the oldest Religion (Sanatan Dharma) but Nepal respects every other religion unbiased. However, Hinduism and Tibetan Buddhism are two prevailing religions in Nepal and hence, the major religious faux pas travelers may experience in Nepal are related with the practices of Hinduism and Buddhism.

Here we have three religious Faux Pas that you would never like to commit while you are traveling in Nepal.

NO to Beef: The most important thing every traveler to Nepal should know is that the restaurants in Nepal do not cook or sell Beef cuisines. In fact, cow is the Nepalese National animal as well as a highly revered religious symbol. Killing of cow is a legal crime in Nepal.

Cow, a scared animal in Nepal is also its National emblem

Cow, a scared animal in Nepal is also its National emblem

Remember Clock-wise: Unless you are circumambulating a Bon Monastery at other occasions when you are walking around any religious shrines in Nepal walk clock-wise. Every Hindu and Tibetan Buddhist shrines in Nepal are circumambulated clock-wise.

Death Ritual: The Hindu death rituals are conducted normally at Riverbanks. The corpses are burnt there. However, mistaking it with pile of woods burning on the riverside and photographing it is a terrible faux pas. Undoubtedly, the mourning relatives of the deceased one could be offensive. Film it but make sure you are not being noticed.

Regarding the faux pas in the rural regions of Nepal, have a look at the list what might put you in awkward situation

Nepalese living in the rural regions prefer “Namaste” while greeting.

How to do Namaste properly: joining two hands at the chest level and pronouncing Na- mas-te with a smile on a face.

Look at the kid in the center of the photograph-its a perfect Namaste

Namaste Tradition in Nepal

Kids greeting with Namaste- A perfect Namaste

Especially, for women trekkers wear the dress that doesn’t reveal much. Go for the long comfortable trousers. Sorry, but the Nepalese in the mountains are not used to seeing women wearing short pants. So, it is better to respect the perception of natives.

While on treks, allow the teahouse you are staying to serve your food. Sounds ridiculous but it is the fact. Teahouses generate profits by serving foods not by providing accommodation. We urge you not to ignore it and put yourself and the guide in awkward position.

Culture of Nepal has huge contrast to the west. Every daily life activity here in Nepal might grab your attention that you would prefer to capture into your camera. Make sure you are at reasonable distance while photographing or take permission, most of the times you won’t be denied.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Festival of holy thread- Janai Purnima aka Rakshya Bandhan

Rakshya-bandhan

Nepal celebrates numerous unique festivals every year. Unique in terms of practice in the other parts of the world; Nepal shares its cultural bond somewhat with India however, the celebration of festivals having same religious importance are different. Among many unique festivals of Nepal, Janai Purnima-the festival of holy thread stands out unique as mantra poured strings are considered powerful protection bonds.

Janai purnima, a holy thread festival for the Hindus most of the years fall on full moon day of August. On this day Hindu men, especially the Brahmans and Chettris perform their annual ritual bath and change their old holy thread (janai) with the new one diagonally across their torso. However, this holy thread is granted to only Hindu males during the religious ceremony, Bartabandan that indicates them of entering the manhood from the childhood. Devotees throng to Kumbeshowr Mela Lalitpur on Janai Poornima to offer prayers to Lord Shiva and tie the thread knot around the wrist. This knot is also called as Rakshya Bandan. Hence, the festival is also celebrated as Rakshya Bandan.

Rakshya refers to “protection and bandhan refers to “bond” so the  knot tied around the wrist is basically a protection bond as per Hindu myth. Regardless of gender and caste, every Hindu ties this protection bond around their wrists during Rakshya Bandhan. Males tie it on right wrist whereas; females tie it on left. Pashupatinath in Kathmandu, Kumeshowr in Patan, Gosain Kunda in Rasuwa, Dudh Kunda in Solukhumbu, Ganga Dhanusagar in Janakpur, Dansadhuma in Jumla, and Vageshowr in Dadeldhura among others, are the major destinations where Janai Purnima or Rakshya Bandhan is celebrated hugely. The major dish during the festival is kwati (a sprout dish of nine types of beans)

The same festival is celebrated as Rakhi in Terai Regions of Nepal. Sisters tie colorful threads on their brother’s wrists. They exchange gifts and brothers vow to protect their sisters lifelong on this revered festival. The Indian communities living in Nepal also celebrate Rakhi.

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Nag Panchami, Worshipping the Serpent God

Nag-panchami- Nepal1

Myth of Nag Panchami

Picture source: wikipedia

A Hindu festival that falls on the fifth day of bright fortnight of Shrawan according to the lunar calendar, Nag Panchami, is the celebration of worshipping serpent gods and deities in Nepal. According to the Gregorian calendar, Nag Panchami falls on July/August, which announces the beginning of the trekking season in Nepal.

According to a well-known myth, Takshaka, the serpent king bit Parikshit to death. Janamaejaya the son of Parishit organized Yagya to eliminate the entire serpent race including Takshaka to avenge his father’s death. The group of highly learned Brahmin sages began the Yagya and hence the serpents were drawn towards the sacrificial pit to death. The powerful mantras scared Takskaha who fled to Indra seeking protection. However, the tempo of mantra became faster and more powerful. Sacred community of Gods pleaded Manasadevi to stop the Yagya and hence Astika was ordered to do so. Astika reached the Yagya site and stopped the Yagya by winning a blessing from Janamajaye demonstrating his unparallel skills. The day was fifth day of bright fortnight of Shrawan month and since then Nag Panchami is observed to celebrate the lives of serpent race including Indra and Takshaka from the rage of Janamajaye.

Nag Panchami is observed by worshipping the copper, silver or stone statues and images of Serpent Deities. People of Nepal put the colorful images of serpents on the doors of their houses; they offer especially cow’s milk to these serpent deities. In some places, people worship the real serpents. Rituals of Nag Panchami vary at places. Celebration of Nag Panchami in Kathmandu can be seen at Changu Narayan and Nag Pokhari. Nag Panchami is observed very enthusiastically at Nag Pokhari. Devotees throng to Nag Pokhari to worship a statue of serpent God that stands tall in the middle of small pond.

 

 

 

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Catastrophic landslide in Nepal kills hunderds, makes 1000s homeless and temporarily obstructs the roadway that joins Tibet and Nepal

sindhupalchowk-landslidePhoto from: Ratopati.com

A catastrophic landslide that hit the mountainous district Sindhuplanchowk almost a week ago had already claimed the lives of 156 peoples; 33 bodies recovered and 123 reported missing are also declared dead. The landslide also damaged a section of Araniko Highway, an only roadway that joins Nepal to Tibet.

Three kilometers section of Araniko Highway at Dam Site in Mankha VDC is under water and the long queue of standstill vehicles are throughout the Crisis Zone. The highway has been closed and its reopening is uncertain. Hence, all transfers for Tibet Tours via Kodari are ongoing through air routes in a helicopter.

A devastating landmass in upper Itani of Ramche VDC 5 slided down to the bank of Sun Koshi River early morning on 2nd August making a dam of boulders and soil. The dam blocked the river route, which formed a huge artificial lake on the site. Twelve hours of continuous water inflow devoid of passage for the outflow, the lake thus formed has already accumulated almost 8 million cusecs water. Though the attempts to increase the outflow of water from the lake are ongoing, the rate of outflow is only 10 cusecs more than the rate of water inflow. The level of threat is still high and the regions beside Sun Koshi are declared Flood Crisis Zone.

Home Ministry officials said the death toll could rise while the aftermath of possible damage caused by the outburst of the accumulated water could be calamitous. Officials said army technicians are trying to make the river route and allow the controllable outflow of water to minimize the risk in the regions of Sun Koshi beyond the dam. Police and army officials are trying to find the missing people and evacuate the villages on the riverside.

Natural calamities happen everywhere, but the landslide at Sindhuplanchowk was extremely disastrous. It turned almost sixty houses into debris. Hundreds have become homeless and infrastructures of the large region have collapsed.

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Beautiful people of Dolpo

Beautiful people not just happen. They endure the sufferings, experience the loss, taste the hatred and find the ways of living in the extreme adverse conditions. They have courage to understand and appreciate life. Most importantly their hearts filled with softness, compassion and deep concern for humanity make them the most beautiful people on Earth.

People of Dolpo live in the extreme remote villages of western highlands of Nepal. Their lifestyle, not at all influenced by modernity is close to the primitive one. Depending on seasonal farming and petty trades for living, the people of Dolpo in a way have accepted poverty. Whatsoever, on such tough circumstances Dolponians have proved to be the most contented people on earth. Though a restricted region for the tourists, Dolpo witnesses few passionate travelers seeking cultural and natural uniquenesss who wholeheartedly pay heavy permit fee to explore Dolpo.

Many travelers to Dolpo write or speak about the highlights of Dolpo which includes magical Phoksundo Lake, elevated ancient hamlets, Crystal Mountain and Shey Gompa. Few appreciate about the people of Dolpo and for rest of them the enchanting landscapes of Dolpo overshadow the memories of hardship of the people of Dolpo.

Here we have a photo essay on Dolponians- undoubtedly, the most beautiful People on Earth.

 

 

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Ducati Everest Challenge 2014: Intimacy with the Himalayas, curiosity towards Tibetan culture and passion for speed

Kathmandu Lhasa Motorbike Expedition

If it is silky smooth ride with fair amount of challenge you are after, the stretch of autoroute on the roof of the world is ideal. After the many motorway challenges have been faced and conquered for the first 100 kilometers to Kodari, the ride gets truly adventurous as soon as it begins to chase the celebrated Friendship Highway. Roads and the driving conditions on the highway best suit the superbikes. Flanking Tibetan landscapes, snaky lefts and rights, soaring passes close to the sky and glimpses of treasured Tibetan culture during the frequent stopovers- this ride genuinely offers the pleasure of lifetime.

The highest altitude Motorbike Ride

Motorbike Trip to Everest Base Camp

A team of adrenaline hungry Nepalese riders took on Everest Challenge 2014 on their pet beasts- Ducati Superbikes. The Ducati Everest Challenge 2014 began on 10th of June. Six riders of the burgeoning Ducati Community Nepal set off to enjoy the pleasure of riding the Roof of the World. Launched from the Nepalese capital, Kathmandu, the monstrous Ducati bikers rode 1000 kilometers on the Friendship Highway to the Tibetan capital, Lhasa and then rallied back to Kathmandu on the 19th of June via Everest Base Camp of the Tibetan side. The 1000-kilometer stretch along the foothills of Himalayan giants is a fantasy with unrivaled scenery—windswept Tibetan landscapes, magical highland lakes and the dramatic rise and fall of the winding curves of the highway.

Motorbikes in high altitude passes

Riding a superbike to the Everest Base Camp

Pramod Shrestha (Goofy), the Road Captain of the Event and five other Nepalese Ducati Riders experienced smooth rides. The power of the Ducati beasts was unleashed on the roads of Tibet. On the road to Lhasa, the ride over Khamba La Pass was much anticipated. On the open highway, the bikes fared exceedingly well and succumbed to no altitude issues- none at all. The weather was favourable throughout and the joy of riding was thus exceptional.  The beasts scored an average speed of 80 km/hour, allowing the riders to stay ahead of schedule, even arriving in Lhasa three hours earlier than the projected time. The ride itself is larger than life, but the major celebration going on in Tibet during the time was a fascinating fortune. The Shakadawa festival, the year of the horse, which is celebrated once every 12 years, and the revelry and festivities had reached its pinnacle on this full moon evening that our riders pulled into town. The guys had fun walking around and also feel extremely privileged to be able to witness these merriments.

Windswept landscapes of Tibet

The time to triumph over the Challenge was on the ride back to Kathmandu. However, to grab the most out the trip the Ducati riders planned to take on every challenge head-on. The team of adrenaline junkies arrived to the top of the famous Yam-drok Tse Lake and established an idea to traverse down to the bank of this alpine beauty and daringly they made it. The adventure continued and the fleet of Ducati arrived at Shegar. From Shegar, a divergence from the Friendship Highway that unfolds mishmash over a 68 kilometers stretch is the way to Everest Base Camp. The hard-hitting and unpredictable road was so challenging that the monster Ducatis had to slow down to 10km/hr. Despite these adverse conditions, the wheels rolled to the Base Camp of world’s highest peak, Everest. The Ducati Everest Challenge 2014 was accomplished and the experiences of the ride would forever fondly haunt the heads and souls of all the riders.

Friendship Highway Tibet

Riding to the Tibetan cities

Ducati Everest Challenge 2014 was supported by Explore Himalaya Travel and Adventure and Turbo Motors Trading Pvt. Ltd. After the completion of the Event the Road Captain, Pramod Shrestha said, “It felt great to ride a bike worthy of excellent roads in Tibet. There was not much traffic and hence my machine and I had the freedom to fly across the Tibetan Plateau.”

Superbikes parked at Himalayan foothills

 

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