Nepal » People & Lifestyle in Nepal

People in Nepal
The Nepalese are descendants of three major migrations. Among the earliest inhabitants were the Newar of the Kathmandu Valley and aboriginal Tharu in the southern Tarai region. The ancestors of the Brahman and Chetri caste groups came from India, while other ethnic groups trace their origins to Central Asia and Tibet, including the Gurung and Magar in the west, Rai and Limbu in the east, and Sherpa and Bhotia in the north.

In the Tarai, which is a part of the Ganges basin, much of the population is physically and culturally similar to the Indo-Aryan people of northern India. People of Indo-Aryan and Mongoloid stock live in the hill region. The mountainous highlands are sparsely populated. Kathmandu Valley, in the middle hill region, constitutes a small fraction of the nation's area but is the most densely populated, with almost 5% of the population.

Life Style in Nepal
Social life in the village revolves around the family, which is headed by the father. Extended families sometimes break apart as sons separate from parents and brothers from each other in search of additional land. Family property is divided equally among sons at the time of separation. Consequently, family land holdings are extremely fragmented. Villagers often pool resources and labor to implement village-level projects such as irrigation ditches or channels. Rice is the food staple in most parts of the country. Barley, millet, and potatoes are important food staples in the Himalayas.

In Nepal women are generally subordinate to men and have less access to education, economic resources, and political power. Their plight, however, varies from one ethnic group to another. Among Tibeto-Nepalese community’s female status is relatively better than in Indo-Nepalese communities. Generally, women work harder and longer than men, taking care of household chores, fetching water and animal fodder, and farming. Women in upper-class families, however, have maids who do household work and other menial chores.

A revival of artistic and intellectual expression occurred in Nepal after the overthrow of Rana rule in the early 1950s. Nepali works of poetry and literature emphasize patriotism and national pride. Hindu and Buddhist religious values inspire the expression of Nepali artists. The lives of gods, saints, and heroes and the relationship of the individual to society and the universe are explored in sculpture, architecture, and drama. Numerous temples and shrines in the Kathmandu Valley display the skill and highly developed aesthetic sense of Nepali artists. Favorite recreational activities of the Nepali include music and dance. Religious ceremonies involve the use of drums and musical instruments preserved since ancient times. In rural areas devotional songs are an important part of cultural life. Radio Nepal schedules folk music programs to foster the traditional culture of the country. Women face a harsh life in Nepal: female mortality rates are higher, literacy rates are one of the lowest in the world, women work longer and harde than men, for less reward.

Generally the legal system also discriminates against women and their freedom to choose their lifestyle. Having said this there have been a number of recent cases of liberalization of the law such as in regard to abortion, menstruation, homosexuality, land rights, and citizenship.