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Gap year in Nepal


Culture and Customs

Gap year in Nepal A gap year in Nepal is a great opportunity to take in a new and fascinating ancient culture. Nepalese culture is diverse, reflecting the different ethnic origins of the people. The Newar community is particularly rich in cultural diversity and is well known for its music and dance.

Gap year volunteers in Nepal get a chance to experience typical Nepali food. A typical Nepalese meal is dal-bhat. Dal (lentils) is made into a spicy soup and served over bhat (boiled rice). Usually curried vegetables or eggs are added. The Newar community, however, has its own cuisine containing non-vegetarian and vegetarian dishes served with alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks. Mustard oil is the cooking medium and spices of all kinds are used in the cooking.

Newari music is mainly percussion based, although flutes and other wind instruments are also used. String instruments are rare. The songs are usually linked to particular seasons and festivals. In the hills, people enjoy their own kind of music, playing saarangi (a string instrument), percussion and flute.

Folklore is an integral part of Nepalese society. Traditional stories are rooted in the reality of day-to-day life, tales of love, affection and battles as well as demons and ghosts and thus reflect local lifestyles, cultures and beliefs. Many Nepalese folktales are enacted through the medium of dance and music. The Hyolmu people of the Helambu region have many distinct folksongs and dances, whose haunting Tibetan inspired melodies linger in the memories of gap year travellers to the region.

The Nepali New Year is known as Navavarsha and usually falls in the second week of April. As it is a national holiday, people go for picnics, have get-togethers and celebrate the day socializing in various ways. However, Lhosar is equally important and is the New Year of the Tibetans and Sherpas. It falls in February. The Buddhist monasteries in Kathmandu, like Boudhanath and Swayambhunath, are decorated with colourful prayer flags. People perform their traditional dances and welcome the New Year with feasts and family gatherings.

Another major festival is Holi, the Hindu festival of water and colours that falls between February/March. This day sees people wander through the streets in groups with various colours smeared all over them and throwing coloured powder and water balloons at each other.

Dashain, celebrated in early October, is the biggest festival of the year. It lasts up to fifteen days, and is the most important festival in the Nepalese year, celebrated by people of all caste and creed throughout the country.

With all these festivals whichever time of the year you plan a gap year in Nepal there will be something of interest to see and experience.

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