© 2016 by NAMKHA JOURNEYS

With Shiva believed to be the guardian deity of Nepal, Hinduism is the dominant religion in the country.  The famous Pashupatinath Temple is the largest Shiva temple in the world which attracts Hindu devotees and pilgrims from all corners of the world. The common mythological belief among Hindus that the epic Ramayana’s Sita Devi was born in the Mithila Kingdom of King Janaka Jaja adds greater importance to Nepal as a place of Hindu worship. Buddhism, which was more popular among the Newars, originated from the Shayka confederation during the 5th century BC. The Hindus and Buddhists in Nepal live in perfect harmony due to their use of common temples and their belief in common deities. The Gurkhas, Magars, Sunwars, Limbus and Rais are natives most attached to Hinduism. Buddhist monks are a part of ceremonial rituals and prayers among moderate Hindus such as the Gurungs, Bhutias and Thakali groups and similarly Buddhists celebrate Hindu festivals such as the Machendrajatra (dedicated to Hindu Shaiva Siddha).
 
Nepalese culture is diverse, reflecting the different ethnic origins of the people. The Newar community is particularly rich in cultural diversity, celebrating many festivals and well-known for their music and dance.
A typical Nepalese meal is dal-bhat-tarkari. Dal is a spicy lentil soup, served over bhat (boiled rice), served with tarkari (curried vegetables) together with achar (pickles) or chutni (spicy condiment made from fresh ingredients).. The Newar community, however, has its own unique cuisine. It consists of non-vegetarian as well as vegetarian items served with alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages. Mustard oil is the cooking medium and a host of spices, such as cumin, coriander, black peppers, sesame seeds, turmeric, garlic, ginger, methi (fenugreek), bay leaves, cloves,
cinnamon, pepper, chillies, mustard seeds, etc., are used in the cooking. The cuisine served on festivals is generally the best.
The Newari Music orchestra consists mainly of percussion instruments, though wind instruments, such as flutes and other similar instruments, are also used. String instruments are very rare. There are songs pertaining to particular seasons and festivals. Paahan chare music is probably the fastest played music whereas the Dapa the slowest. There are certain musical instruments such as Dhimay and Bhusya which are played as instrumental only and are not accompanied with songs. The dhimay music is the loudest one. In the hills, people enjoy their own kind of music, playing saarangi (a string instrument), madal and flute. They also have many popular folk songs known as lok geet and lok dohari.
Folklore is an integral part of Nepalese society. Traditional stories of love, affection and battles as well as demons and ghosts are rooted in the reality of day-to-day life and reflect local cultures and beliefs. Many Nepalese folktales are enacted through the medium of dance and music.
Most houses in the rural lowlands of Nepal are made up of a tight bamboo framework and walls of a mud and cow-dung mix. These dwellings remain cool in summer and retain warmth in winter. Houses
in the hills are usually made of unbaked bricks with thatch or tile roofing. At high elevations construction changes to stone masonry and slate may be used on roofs.
Nepal's flag is the only national flag in the world that is non-quadrilateral in shape, and one of only two non-rectangular flags in use. According to its official description, the red in the flag stands for victory in war or courage, and is also color of the rhododendron, the national flower of Nepal. Red also stands for aggression. The flag's blue border signifies peace. The curved moon on the flag is a symbol of the peaceful and calm nature of Nepalis, while the sun represents the aggressiveness of Nepali warriors.

Culture and Religion of Nepal