Nepalese Culture

Do's and Don'ts

Do's

  • Dress modestly in a way that doesn’t over-accentuate your figure. People generally cover the shoulders and chest, and pants or skirts go below the knee.
  • Expect to be asked quite blunt open and direct questions about (for example) your marital status, your age, weight or how much an item cost. This is a cultural norm; however, it is best not to initiate those questions yourself.
  • The best approach to communication is to be respectful and gracious. Be patient and prepare to listen.
  • If offering criticism or addressing a problem, do so directly to the person it concerns whilst keeping your approach soft and out of the view of others.
  • Try to show admiration for the beauty of Nepalese culture and ask questions about it. There are many incredible and unknown facets of the culture that Nepalis enjoy divulging to foreigners.
  • Recognise the diversity of the Nepalese people and landscape. Contrary to the stereotype of Nepalis being mountain people, most Nepalis actually live in lower valleys and plains where the climate is very warm.


Don'ts

  • Drawing parallels between Nepal and India may offend your Nepalese counterpart. Avoid mislabelling them as Indian or making comments about a similar accent and appearance.
  • Do not tell jokes that are sexually suggestive.
  • Swearing is almost never done in Nepal and should be avoided around your Nepali counterpart.
  • Avoid raising your voice at others in public or showing displays of anger. People strongly dislike public confrontation and are quick to avoid those who express negative emotions.
  • Do not complement a baby by saying it looks healthy or fat. There is a belief that this will bring sickness upon it.
  • Avoid critiquing the social issues in Nepal unless you have something helpful to say. Most Nepalis are sharply aware of the shortcomings of their country and government (e.g. poverty, corruption, gender inequality, social inequality). They are unlikely to appreciate criticism that doesn’t offer solutions and may get quite defensive unless the discussion is well articulated.
  • Avoid criticising the royal family of Nepal unless you have a longstanding relationship with a Nepalese person.
  • Do not belittle a Nepalese person for having a strong accent. It is okay to ask someone to repeat themselves, but be sensitive to the isolation an accent barrier can create.
  • Calling a Nepalese person “poor” can offend them. While their country may be in a difficult situation, they are generally very hard workers and tend to avoid asking for assistance if they can help it.
  • Being called “dishonest” is a strong insult in Nepal as honesty is a core virtue.
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