Tag Archives: nepali culture

Happy New Year 2019

Hello everyone, 

First of all, a very Happy New Year 2019. 

Hope all of you had a great holiday and are looking forward to an amazing 2019. 

Thank you everyone who sent me emails, dm on Twitter and Instagram. I really appreciate all the love you have been sending my way. 

I know I have been MIA for a while but life has been so busy that it is hard to sit down and write but I have decided to make at more effort this year. 

So much has happened in the last few months so I thought I will give you a quick update. 

In August, we bought a new place and moved in and that is one of the biggest reason why I am so busy. Before moving we were busy packing and I couldn’t have imagined how much stuff we had accumulated. It took us more than two weeks to pack, a whole day to move and I am still unpacking boxes and fixing stuff in our new house. 

One of the reason we decided to move was to get a place with a backyard. Now that Chhori is growing up, we realised that she needs more space to be active so our unit was feeling too small. 

After moving, Chhori has been really happy enjoying the stairs and the backyard. 

In September, we celebrated Teej with friends and family.

We also celebrated father’s day which was great. Chhori helped me bake and we surprised AS with breakfast in bed. 

We also celebrated Nepali Father’s Day.

October was super busy with Dashain as we had so many things to do and so many people to visit but I am not complaining as we are able to celebrate this big festival even though we are not in Nepal. 


Then on 28 October, we celebrated my birthday with visit to a circus and an amazing lunch. AS organized the surprise for us and Chhori and I had a great time.  

In November, we did Ghar Puja for our new place as we had for the previous one.

It was followed by Tihar. We had great time as Chhori is old enough to understand and she enjoyed each ceremony.

She loved her gift from her brother for Bhai Tika. 

December was busy at both work and home. We celebrated Christmas with friends and family and it was AS birthday on 28. We celebrated the traditional way with sagun and of course cake 🙂 .  

At the end of the month, we went to Melbourne for our holiday. I will write more about it in my next post. Till then please keep reading my blog and sending me your love and support. 

Take care. 

 M from nepaliaustralian

XOXO 

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Superstitions Practices during Pregnancy in Nepali culture

As I come from a background where there are lots of superstitions and beliefs practiced till today. It is normal to hear dos and don’ts regarding pregnancy. I can see the logic behind some of the beliefs while about others I have no idea why they are followed.

In Nepal, they believe that when the baby is in the womb it picks up a lot from his/her surroundings and emotions and thoughts of the mother. Even though we may not realize his/her senses are active at that time, our actions have a great impact on babies even before they arrive on earth.

From the type of food to the mother’s daily actions, what to wear and what to do are some of the traditions that amazed me. Some of them I did considered following while others I couldn’t. Most of these superstitions don’t cost more money and doesn’t hurt anybody. It just may prove to be a little more inconvenient at times.

As educated as I am in the 21st century of advanced science, I am still scared sometimes not to follow the superstitions. At the back of my mind, I think that if something does happen to the baby, it will be my fault. I definitely do not follow the beliefs blindly but I do follow them as long as they sound reasonable enough and it are morally right.

Not announcing the pregnancy until after 3 months have passed

I wrote a whole post regarding this because I have my own idea why we shouldn’t announce the pregnancy very early. A higher percentage of miscarriages occur during the first trimester. Some people may feel it is just wiser to wait until after the period of instability is over. We did tell our immediate family members early and waited 3 months to tell the rest of the world, but at the end of the day it is a personal preference.

nepaliaustralian

Eating lots of almond, milk and saffron to have fair skin baby

I have talked about Asian people’s obsession with fair skin before in my blog. I thinking living in Australia for more than a decade now I have come to love my skin tone. Most people around always complement me about it and I am proud of my colour.

But in Nepal, they still believe that fair is beautiful. Everyone wants a fair baby regardless of the colour of parents’ skin. Most people will call a fair person beautiful disregarding any other quality.

So when I told people that I am having a baby, they asked me to drink lots of milk with saffron and almonds. Some of my friends and cousins swear by it.

I do drink plenty of milk for calcium and snack on almonds but don’t do saffron at all. But in my head, I can’t imagine my baby being too fair as both AS and I are brown and I am sure we are going to have a brown baby no matter what I eat or drink.

Not watching Horror/scary/action movie

I know lots of people have asked me not to watch scary movies/ TV during pregnancy. It’s advisable not to watch horror or action movies which involve a lot of blood during pregnancy because it is believed that it may indirectly effect the growing baby. Watching violent and horror stuff on television or reading such books can create fear or violence in your child.

I do see some logic behind this because when we watch such movies, our heart may pump heavily as we get excited and this could lead to pressure on our womb.

I generally don’t watch horror movies but I do watch lots of cops/ detective dramas so I am not sure what it is doing that to the baby. I think if you feel happy after watching a movie and not frightened then go for anything that you like.

Look at the photo/picture of great people or God

Lots of people believe that you should have a photo of a god/goddess or some famous person in your room while you are pregnant. It is also believed that keeping pictures of baby Lord Krishna and smiling faces around you in the room will also create a harmonious environment.

When my SIL was pregnant, my brother put up president Obama’s photo in their bedroom. I really don’t know what was going on in his head but if my nephew becomes a prime mister/president one day, then I will be sure that this theory works.

Also having photos of beautiful baby is supposed to make your baby beautiful as well.

Do not touch the baby in tummy during eclipse

It is believed that if one is expecting and there is an eclipse during that time both parents should be very careful and cautious. Parents should not do any activity like using a knife, scissors, pen as their child will have a mark or mole or cut on his body.  So during eclipse, one should not leave the house and should lie on the bed straight and stay indoors. Reading holy books during eclipse is beneficial for everyone specially couples expecting a baby.

Read holy/spiritual book

Parents who are more into spiritualism and read spiritual books during pregnancy believe that they notice their children will be coming from the same thought process because they read these books during pregnancy.

There is a myth people believe in for a long time in our holy book Gita.

Abhimanyu, who is the son of Arjuna & Subhadra (half-sister of lord Krishna). As an unborn child in his mother’s womb, Abhimanyu learned the knowledge of entering the deadly and virtually impenetrable Chakravyuha from Arjun. The epic explains that he overheard Arjun talking about this with his mother Subhadra from the womb. Arjun explains to Subhadra in detail, the technique of attacking and escaping from various vyoohs (an array of army formation) such as Makaravyoha, Kurmavyooha, and Sarpavyuha etc. After explaining all the vyoohs, he explains about the technique of cracking Chakravyuha. Arjun tells how to enter the Chakryavyuha. When he was about to explain how to exit from the Chakravyuha, he realizes that Subhadra is asleep and stops explaining about the Chakravyuha further. Thus the baby Abhimanyu in the womb did not get a chance to learn how to come out of it, which played a big role in his life.

Be around and in contact with positive and cheerful people.

I completely agree with this one because you don’t need extra stress during pregnancy apart from what you are already going through. If the mom to be is depressed and sad most of the time during pregnancy it will affect the child in the same manner.

I made sure that I only met people who had a positive attitude so I didn’t dwell on negative thoughts and kept myself happy during the journey.

Reciting, chanting or listening to devotional mantras

Good, peaceful thoughts and reciting, chanting or listening to devotional mantras plays a great role at the time one is expecting.  It is believed that if you listen to devotional mantras when the baby is in the tummy, he/she will have a calm personality.

Wearing loose clothing

You don’t want to show off your pregnancy in case you get an evil eye from someone. They even suggest wearing scarfs (kasto) so people won’t notice you are pregnant. Making sure you stay away from evil eyes and evil thought seems to be very important in Nepali culture.

For me it was not possible for me to wear covered clothing as most of my pregnancy was during spring and summer. I was happy to wear comfortable clothes that were not too tight but never went beyond that to make people think I was not pregnant.

Until around 5 months, I think it was not a problem anyway as it was not obvious but after that no matter what I wore, it was obvious.

I am sure there are a lot of other superstations and beliefs in Nepali/Newari culture I could add to this list. But I am going to stop here.

Please do share superstitions and practices during pregnancy in your culture. I am sure there are some interesting ones and some weird ones out there.

Till  next post take care everyone,

from nepaliaustralian

XOXO

Living in the west with values of the east

This article was published in DREAMS online magazine on 3rd October 2013.

dreams

When I was living in Nepal, I used to be annoyed and irritated by Nepali culture, tradition and values from time to time. Sometimes, I wished that I could run away from all that and live my life the way I wanted. And my wish was fulfilled when I left Nepal to come to Australia.

Having lived outside the country for more than decade now, I know how wrong my thoughts were. These days, I miss our culture, tradition, rituals and values that I used to ignore before. Not only do I miss it, I actually want to be a part of it and hope to pass it on to my kids and grand-kids one day, like my mother and grandmother did.

The festive season of Dashain and Tihar is here, and it is one of my favourite times of the year. This festive time has helped me connect with Nepal, Nepali culture and tradition. Before, I used to wish things could be as good in Australia as in Nepal, but that was just wishful thinking. So instead of being sad and depressed, this time I decided that we would celebrate the festivals with whatever we could.

With the motto, “If the mountain will not come to M, then M must go to the mountain”, we bring Nepali style Dashain and Tihar to Sydney. For the last few years, I have been having a lot of fun in Nepali festivals here.

For Dashain, I plant Jamara during Ghatasthapana, and it is ready for Tika day. During Asthami, Nawami and Dashami, we plan a Newari bhoj to mark the days.

Last year we had Kuchi Bhwey, a Newari bhoj consisting of Baji/Chiura(beaten/flattened rice), Chicken curry, Spinach, Methi kerau (fenugreek and peas), Thulo kerau (big peas), Golbheda achar (tomato pickle), Butan(meat fry), Aloo tama(potatoes with bamboo shoots), and Methi(fenugreek) salad on Asthami.

On Nawami, we followed the tradition and performed a worship of our car. Later we had Samay Baji, a Newari dish consisting of Baji/Chiura(beaten/flattened rice) , Haku Mushya (black soyabean), Chhwela (smoked meat), Puka-la (spicy roasted meat), Aalu achar (cold potato salad ), Bhuti (boiled beans with spices), Khyen (boiled egg), Panchkwa (bamboo shoot, potato, beans mixed curry), Wo or Bara (shallow fried pancakes made of black lentil), Lava-palu (ginger and garlic), Achar (pickle), Wauncha (green vegetables) and Aayla (Newari liquor).

On Vijaya Dashmi, we normally take a day off from work so we can have fun with our loved ones. It is always fun to be blessed by elders with red Tika and Jamara. Following Tika, there are a few days where we get invited for tika, and this normally concludes the celebration of Dashain.

After a few weeks, we celebrate Tihar in full swing as well. I know people overseas normally celebrate only Bhai Tika but I didn’t want to miss out on the other days. So I perform Kag Tihar, Kukkur Tihar, Laxmi Puja and Mha Puja as well.

I haven’t seen many crows around in Sydney, so I decided to print a photo of a crow to perform my puja with. I know it sounds a bit silly, but it helps me to celebrate the festival. I did the same during Kukur Puja, printed the photo of a dog that my parents have in Nepal. If you ever feel like celebrating Tihar in full swing, you may want to follow my ideas.

I love Laxmi Puja as it make me feel happy and there is so much to do. We start the evening by lighting fairy lights and candles. Then I perform Laxmi Puja to the best to my knowledge. I normally print out the Mandap and Laxmi’s footsteps so I can perform the puja. Living overseas, we have to make do with whatever we can rather than missing out in the belief that we can’t do it.

Following Laxmi Puja, we performed Mha Puja with my brother, cousins, and friends. Mha Puja is such a great way to come together and have fun in our Newar culture. For this puja too we used printed mandaps, which made it easy for us to set up the puja. Like in Nepal, we have Shagun (a traditional plate typically consisting of a boiled egg, smoked fish, a “bara”, haku chhoila”  and “aila”, which ends with “dhau”) and bless our body for good health.

And finally, there is the Bhai Tika, which is always a big deal for me. I have two brothers on whom I perform the Puja, and I wanted to make sure it is a great celebration. I and my cousin even learned how to make Sel Roti, so our celebration is a lot like Nepal’s. I prepare for Bhai Tika weeks in advance, making masala (pack of dry fruits & nuts) and buying fruits, snacks and clothes. I prepare Shagun on the day and bake cakes for puja as well. I am always happy to see my brothers enjoying the day with me, and blessing me with happiness and gifts.

Not only celebrating Dashain and Tihar, but we try to do whatever we can to be in touch with Nepalese tradition and culture. Recently, my nephew had his 6th birthday, and it was celebrated with yomari (a newari delicacy made of external covering of rice-flour and an inner content of treacle) mala like in Nepal. One of my nephews was born here in Australia, so we did his chatti and nwaran (naming ceremony) according to Hindu rituals. We celebrate Teej every year wearing red and eating yummy Nepalese cuisine. And whenever possible, we go to Nepal to celebrate milestones like marriage and pasni. We had a traditional Newari wedding which went for over a week, and my nephew had his pasni in Nepal with our relatives and friends.

Even though I don’t have kids of my own right now, I know that they are affected by many thing in life, but their strongest main values are learned from their parents, society and surrounding environment. I know that even in Nepal, with globalisation we are losing some of our traditional values fast, while we adopt easily imitable aspects of western culture. Nepal has a unique blend of culture and customs, and people travel millions of miles to learn and observe these in Nepal. It will be a shame for our kids not to know their own customs, traditions, and rituals.

I hope my effort in bringing our eastern culture to the west will help my kids and their kids to learn more about Nepal, Nepali culture, traditions, rituals and values, so that they know their root and can be proud of it. I have been away from Nepal for a long time, but I still cherish the values that I have learned, and I hope one day, our next generation will do the same.

Happy Dashain and Tihar to all readers. No matter where you are, enjoy it in full swing!!!!

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Nepali Culture, Customs and Etiquette

Over the years I have noticed many cultures, customs and etiquettes of Nepal which are so different from what we find in western countries. I am sharing a few of them here. 

  • In Nepal, everyone is your Brother, Sister, Uncle or Aunt even if you are not related. 
  • It is normal to slurp tea or any drink when you are out and about. 
  • Superstition goes hand in hand with culture. For example if a cat crosses the road, you wait for someone else to cross that path before you cross it. 
  • You should not step over an idol of a god or goddess or anything that is used to worship them. This is seen as a disrespect to god to step over them. A lot of time if someone is coming up the steps with Puja items you are not allowed to go up of down the steps above them as this constitutes stepping over the Puja items. 
  • Sharing is caring in Nepal so if you have a Kit Kat bar, you still ask who ever is around you and break that bar into pieces to share. 
  • Fat is good in Nepal so if someone in Nepal said you look fat, don’t get offended. He/she is giving you a compliment on how healthy you look. 
  • Momo is the best food in the world (according to every Nepali) 
  • PDA (Public displays of affection) is a big NO NO. 
  • As respect to the God and Goddess, one should always take off your shoes before entering a temple. 
  • In most Nepali homes you should not wear shoes in the rooms, they have to be taken off before entering any room. 
  • Ask for permission before entering a Hindu temple. In some temples, only Hindu’s are allowed. 
  • Taking photographs inside most temples is not allowed. 
  • You always walk around a temple in clockwise direction. 
  • You will notice lots of people touch their forehead with their fingers as they pass by the temples. It is acknowledgement of God and showing respect. 
  • Never enter anyone’s kitchen until they ask you to. 
  • Staring is ok (I know it is silly). 
  • It is normal to find people of the same sex walking together hand in hand (girl and girl or even boy and boy) but boy and girl can’t walk hand in hand without being stared at. 
  • People call each other Sir or Madam, like Mohan Sir or Rita Madam in the workplace. 
  • Bargaining is the first rule of shopping in Nepal. [I have paid twice the price of an item even when I bargain 😦 ] 
  • You will notice Nepali people shake their head a lot. If the head shakes (sways) from side to side it is YES an if it shakes from side to side (face turns from side to side) it’s a NO. 
  • When there is a visitor, they serve tea and egg. Noddles like Wai Wai and Maggie are served as lunch. 
  • If you are meeting someone and they didn’t come in time, don’t be surprise. It is called Nepali time which is to come a bit late to your appointment. 
  • Dal Bhaat Tarkai can be breakfast , lunch and dinner. 
  • Nepali people don’t eat beef and until recently it was illegal to even sell beef. 
  • When woman has her period, normally they are considered impure and they are not allowed in the temple and kitchen for four days. 
  • There are no fines for littering in Nepal so you see people throwing things on the street even if the bins are just a few feet away. 
  • It is considered rude to touch any one’s head. 
  • In Nepal, you don’t eat and serve yourself. It is considered Jutho (impure) to touch the cooking pots while you are eating. 
  • Left hand is considered impure/Jutho so you never pass things around with your left hand. 
  • If someone dies in the family, the family will not celebrate any festivals or birthdays for a year and there will be no wedding or any other happy celebrations for that year. 
  • If someone touches their throat with their fingers then they blow on the fingers. Not blowing on it is believed to cause swollen glands in the throat. 
  • Footwear should not be left upside down as it will cause bad luck. 
  • You can see some vehicles in Nepal with a slipper hanging in the front (or rear). This is said to ward of evil (bad eye) so that accidents will not befall the vehicle. 
  • You should not say the word for Witch in Nepali, it is believed to bring you to the attention of a witch and she will harm you. 
  • If you find a mysterious bruise on the body, it is thought to be because a witch drank your blood. 
  • You should not pee on a Pipal tree as they are usually haunted by a witch and she will harm you for peeing on her home. 
  • You should not touch most stuff (that are not meant to be touched with the feet) with your feet, since everything is thought to have an essence of God and touching them with the feet is disrespecting God. Especially things for learning, as Saraswati is the goddess of learing and pillows as you normally put your head on it, etc. 

There are many other things but I will leave that for another post.

Widows in Nepal

I want to start this post by saying; whatever I am going to write in this post is solely my opinion and understanding and hold no disrespect for any culture or tradition. 

In Nepal, if a Hindu woman loses her husband, she has to wear a white sari for a whole year. She also has to give up all signs of marriage like pote, glass chura and sindoor. 

After one year, she is allowed to wear clothes with colours other than red or shades of red or other bright colours and she still can’t wear pote, glass chura and sindoor. They are also forbidden from remarrying. It is believed if a widow marries another man; her deceased husband’s soul goes to hell. I know it sounds ridiculous but that is what the widows are led to believe. 

In ancient times, there used to be ‘Sati’ practice in which if a married man died, the widow is coerced to join her husband in his funeral pyre. My grandma used to tell me the stories about how she knew people who she lost due to this practice. This was outlawed only around 70 years ago. 

I don’t know why the husband is never made to undergo such cruel customs on the death of his wife. And men can remarry if they want. 

My paternal grandmother was widowed when she was quite young. Her youngest child was only 2 years old at that time. I know she suffered a lot as a widow in a conservative Nepali society. She was not invited for many religious ceremonies and considered an outcast for lots of Pujas. My grandma is a survivor and she managed to ignore all the brutal treatment from the society and brought up all 7 kids all by herself. She made sure that all the kids went to school and were well-educated despite the fact that she was uneducated and alone. All the kids grew up to be successful in their lives and all the credit goes to my grandma. 

I never saw my grandma wearing any bright colour saris even after 50 years of the death of my grandfather nor did she wear any glass chura. She used to have a few golden bangles and that was it. She told me lot of stories where she felt like an outcast from the society after her husband passed away. 

I know an aunt who lost a husband in a freak accident after just 3 years of marriage. At that time she had a year old baby boy and she was only 26 years old. I really thought it was cruel that she couldn’t enjoy her life just because her husband had passed away. Her MIL blamed her for her son’s death and made her life into hell. I am sure she missed her husband terribly and on top of that she had to deal with the cold behaviour from relatives and the society. I strongly believed that she should have been allowed to remarry and live the rest of her life happily but I was just a kid and my opinion would have brought an outburst among my relatives. 

Recently, I read news that the Nepali government are giving RS 50,000 (AUD 600) to the couple if a man married a widow. I find this wrong in so many levels. A widow is a woman and not some broken furniture which you pay the removalist to discard. No one should be given monetary incentive to marry; it should be purely out of love. I also read lots of news later that people were marrying only for the money and it was not helping the problem of widows in Nepal. 

I know there are so many human rights organisations that are fighting for this cause and I salute them but this problem is not going anywhere until we are able to educate people and make them understand that death is a natural process so no woman should suffer her whole life just because her husband died. 

I know things are changing slowly but still the majority of Nepalese people do not accept widows as a normal woman. I want them to think what they will do if the window is their own daughter or sister. I am sure they want them to be treated as equal to any normal woman and allowed to remarry if they wish to and live their life happily.