What immediately comes to your mind when you think of Nepal? Obviously, the Himalayas and the picturesque, serene surroundings, isn’t it? Well, there is more to this enchanting land apart from the spectacular Himalayas. The facts of Nepal are as interesting as its culture, heritage and long history. Here are some of the cultural facts that you would love to know about Nepal.
A Non-Rectangular Flag unlike Any in the World
Nepal’s national flag is unique since it is not rectangular in shape (every other country in the world has a rectangular flag). The flag of Nepal has two non-identical triangles which symbolize the Himalayas as well as the Moon (in the 1st part) and the Sun (in the 2nd part). Though, you may come across different interpretations of the symbols according to various facts of Nepal but, the most popular states that, the moon represents cool weather and the sun represents the strong resolve of the Nepalese.
Tibetan Sand Mandala
If you have already been to Nepal then, you must have witnessed mandalas being displayed throughout various parts of the country. Starting from restaurants to shops to streets, these beautiful geometrical designs featuring different colors are present everywhere. Both Buddhists and Hindus use this spiritual symbol to meditate. But, the Sand Mandala or more specifically, Tibetan Sand Mandala is unique only to Nepal and is an important aspect of the cultural facts of Nepal. Tibetan Buddhists construct these Sand Mandalas in a group as it involves a detailed and complicated structure. The interesting part is that one Sand Mandala is used only once for meditation and destroyed right after the meditation is over. This symbolizes ‘detachment’ – nothing lasts forever.
Largest Population of Hindus
Yes, it is true that Nepal accommodates the largest population of Hindus across the entire world. Though, there are people from different religions staying in the country harmoniously but, it is estimated that around 82 percent of the entire population comprises of Hindus.
Kumari – Living Goddess
‘Kumari’ is the living goddess of Nepal and the people of this land believe her as ‘Lord Durga’s’ (Goddess Durga) manifestation. The ‘Kumari’ is actually a virgin girl who is worshipped until she suffers from an illness or injury or till the time her periods start. Unlike normal girls, she has a different life and is viewed upon by the people of the country with reverence. There are several Kumaris in Nepal but, Nepal’s Royal Kumari is the Kumari of Kathmandu. This is a very old tradition and she represents the culture and identity of this ancient land.
57 Years Ahead of us
If you witness any shop in Nepal which states that it was established in 2050 don’t be surprised. One of the fascinating cultural facts of Nepal is the Nepali calendar which is actually 57 years ahead of us and their New Year begins in mid-April or the month of ‘Baisaakh’. The ‘Bikram Sambat’ or the Nepali calendar was introduced by the famous Indian emperor, Vikramaditya and the calendar is still being used by the people of this country.
Nepalese People Love ‘Dahl Bhat’
How can a discussion about the culture of a country remain complete without a mention of its cuisine? There aren’t several varieties in the cuisine of this country but, you’ll surely want to try ‘Dahl Bhat’ at least once. This is the staple diet of Nepalese and it consists of lentils, rice along with different types of spices and flavors. The people of this country love this cuisine and no doubt, it is healthy and fulfilling. It is usually accompanied by some cooked vegetables, pickles and salad. The surprising thing is that this heavy and fulfilling meal is such a favorite that lots of them consume this wholesome diet even three times a day.
The Combination of the David Star and Swastika
If you walk along the side streets of Kathmandu, you’ll notice Swastika symbols crafted here and there which also includes the Star of David. Well, don’t be intrigued by seeing these two symbols together as both are pure Hindu symbols. Swastika represents auspiciousness in Hindu religion and Hexagram or Star of David symbolizes the appearance of male and female. The upward triangle symbolizes ‘Shiva’ (God’s masculine side) whereas the downward one represents ‘Shakti’ (God’s feminine side).
World Heritage Sites are Aplenty
Nepal is renowned for its densest concentration of UNESCO world heritage sites. There are three districts in Kathmandu Valley: Kathmandu, Lalitpur and Bhaktapur. These three districts have seven world heritage sites within a radius of 15km. The most popular world heritage sites include the Swayambhunath, Pashupatinath, Boudha Stupa and Patan Darbar Square.
This amazing land of the Himalayas is truly fascinating and charming in its own way. There are so many things to explore and unravel in this country that one lifetime doesn’t seem enough.