Let us start with the name of the Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal, which either derived from a legend that a Hindu sage named ‘Ne,’ son of Lord Brahma, lived in the region which took after its Name and ‘Pala’ – his work, to protect the land; or from ‘Newar’, one of the ancient tribes living in Kathmandu valley. What is known for certain is that the term Nepal started applying to both the region and its people circa 512 A.D, attested by a Sanskrit inscription.
Now that we have covered the name, let us move to the national flag, which is unique with its shape. The Nepali flag consists of two triangles which symbolise the Himalaya Mountains and represent the two major religions, Hinduism and Buddhism. And according to the legend, it was Vishnu, himself, who gave the flag with the sun and moon to the Nepali people.
And looking at the head of the other major religion in Nepal, the Buddhism, while Buddha might had not taken a direct part in the country’s flag, he was, indeed, born in Nepal.
Moving to the impressive Himalayas, home to the highest lake on earth (Tilicho at 4,800 meters), the deepest lake on earth (Shey Phoksundo), the highest mountain on earth, Mount Everest, and additionally to eight of the top ten tallest mountains on Earth.
In Nepali language, the name of Everest is Sagarmatha, which means ‘goddess of the sky,’ but the country also worships the only living goddesses in the world. Kumaris (literal translation – ‘virgins’) are selected as children, live in temples and are worshipped as the living incarnations of the goddess Taleja, manifestation of divine female energy. Obviously, when they achieve puberty the divine power leaves the girls and they are then retired.
If you are not really into goddesses, Nepal is one of the few places where you can see both one-horned rhinos and Bengali tigers.
And that rare view is opened to non-locals only since the 1950s, when Nepal opened its borders for tourists. But let us warn you, while the standard of life in Nepal is fairly low, with average monthly salaries of USD 200, flying to Nepal could be really expensive. Nepal’s national airline operates flights only within Asia.
You might end up paying more than expected, but at the end it would be all worth it, just think that Nepal has the densest concentration of World Heritage Sites and one of the best and most picturesque trekking routes.
And when you land there – mind your calendar, you will find yourself in year 2073, as the Nepali Calendar is 56.7 years ahead of the solar Gregorian calendar. (In 2016, Nepali New Year was on 13th April, next year – it will be on 14th April.)
Yet, it might feel as you have actually travelled back in time to meet quite Victorian manners, as showing public affection in public might get you arrested.
And you have to further mind your manners, as like in other South-east Asian countries, showing the bottom of your feet or touching anything with them is considered offensive, along with touching anyone’s head, and the left hand is not to be used while eating. So you need to grab your Momo, the delicious Nepali dumpling, with your right hand.
Your next obstacle would most likely be the Nepali language, just read through the following – the 2011 National census lists 123 Nepalese languages spoken as a mother tongue in Nepal!
Planning to visit Nepal, or interested in other facts about the country itself or the Nepali language, our in-house Nepali translators and Nepali interpreters are here to help.
-> Click here to contact our Nepali language department.