Nepali People – Everything You Need to Know

Nepali People: Nepal is a multiethnic country and has prominently two different types of races that are Indo-Aryan people and people of Tibetiyan and Burmese ancestry. People from South and North of Nepal migrated to Nepal at different points of time and produced a country with diverse linguistics and ethnic.

There are about 126 castes and ethnic groups in Nepal. Most of the Himalayan region people are migrated from Tibet and the Hilly and the Terai people of Nepal are migrated from the Indian Subcontinent. The hilly region people can be seen as a mixture of both races.

In the hilly region, Hilly Brahmin, Kshetris, Baisya, Sudra caste people of Indo-Aryan family and Magar, Rai, Limbu, Tamang, Gurung, Chepang are people who live in the hilly region of Nepal and are of mixed races which consist of people following Buddhism, Kirant and Hindu religions.

In the mountainous region Sherpa, Thakali and Bhot people live who have close ancestry with Tibetiyan people. In the Terai region of Nepal, Brahmin, Kshetris, Vaisya, and Sudra of Indo-Aryan family, indigenous tribes of Tharu, Rana, and now due to large migrations of hilly and mountainous people in Terai region, Terai has become a common region for every ethnic Nepali people.

Mostly Brahmin, Kshetris, Vaisya and Sudra people are all over Nepal from east to west in the hilly and Terai region.

Nepali girl
Photo: Pixbay/YohoPrashant

The earliest inhabitants and aboriginal people of Nepal are Newars from Kathmandu valley but they have been living in every administrative region’s capital since they were merchant and close to king as they were from capital city of the country, Tharu and Rana from Terai, Gurung, and Tamang from Western, Central, and Eastern Nepal, Magar from Western to Eastern Nepal, Sherpas and Bhot in the mountainous region of Western and Eastern Nepal and Khas or Pahari (Hilly region) Brahmin, Kshetri, Vaisya and Sudra of Farwestern hills as well as Madhesi (Brahmin, Kshetri, Vaisya and Sudra) people of terai are some of the earliest ethnic who came to Nepal and aboriginal to Nepal.

There are numerous other indigenous people such as Chepang, Raute, Raji, Bankariya, Hayu, Kisan, Kusbadiya, Kusunda, Lepcha, Meche, Surel, Baragaule Thakali, Byansi, Chhantyal, Chhairotan, Tangbe, Tingaule Thakali, Yakkha, Yolmo, etc.

The people living in the mountainous region are called Bhote, living in the hilly region are called Pahari and Indo-Aryan people of Terai are called Madhesi who share common ancestry and border with Bihari people of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar of India.

People of the hilly and Terai region of Farwestern Nepal also share common ancestry with Uttarakhand hilly people and with Rana and Tharus of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, and Uttarakhand respectively. Similarly, Eastern Tamang, Gurung, Magar people of Nepal also share common ancestry and culture with people of Sikkim and Darjeeling. The migrations of different ethnic groups have been continuous in these regions from ancient times.

  • How do Nepali people greet?

Nepali People say Namaste or Namaskar as a form of greeting. Namaste or Namaskar is usually spoken with a slight bow and both hands are pressed together by only touching palms, fingers pointing upwards and thumbs close to the chest.

Bowing to the elder is a form of showing respect. Namaste and Namaskar are formal greetings used by Nepali people but within families to greet elder members of family and relatives, juniors usually do Dhog which is done by bowing down or by touching feet of elders and in return Elders give some blessings. While Namaste or Namaskar is greeted back by Namaste or Namaskar.

  • What is Nepal best known for?

Nepal is best known for the Highest Mountains of Himalayas, Gurkhas, Hinduism and Buddhism, Gautam Buddha, Temples, flag, Ayurveda, etc.


Nepal alone has 8 out of 14 highest Mountains peaks over 8,000m of the world. Mount Everest, Kanchenjunga, Lhotse, Makalu, Dhaulagiri, Manaslu, Cho Oyu, and Annapurna Mountains are in Nepal.

Gurkha Soldiers:

Nepal is home for all the Gurkhas serving around the world. Gurkha is the national army of Nepal. Nepali people serve in the British army, the Indian army, and Singaporean Police and have served as an army for many other British Colonies for hundreds of years. After the Anglo-Nepal war between British and Nepal, the British were highly impressed by the bravery of Nepali soldiers and made Nepal its ally. Gurkha is well known for bravery and made their name to be remembered in the world by fighting fiercely with the national weapon of Nepal, Khukuri.

Hinduism and Buddhism:

Nepal was the last Hindu Monarchy that ended in 2008. Nepal is the center of faith for all the Hindus and Buddhists around the world. There are numerous Hindu and Buddhist temples, Gumba and shrines all over Nepal. Millions of Hindus and Buddhists from around the world come to Nepal for pilgrimages of the holy places, temples, and shrines. A marvelous blend of both Hinduism and Buddhism can be seen in Nepal.

Gautam Buddha:

Nepal is also known for giving birth to the “Light of Asia”, Gautam Buddha. Siddhartha Gautam, the founder of Buddhism, was born in Lumbini, Nepal as a prince of Shakya Kingdom who later became Gautam Buddha after attaining enlightenment. Nepal is also the center of faith for millions of Buddhists around the world.


Nepal is also known as the country of temples. There are hundreds of temples in Nepal, especially in Kathmandu city. It is impossible not to see a statue of God in each corner of the streets which is also worshipped by people living in that community.

As well as there are many big and significant temples such as Pashupatinath, Dakshinkali, Suryabinayak, Ashok Binayak, Guheyashwori, Siddhi Binayak, Chandra Binayak, Jal Binayak, Karya Binayak, SiddhiKali, Changunarayan, Nyatapol, Doleshwor Mahadev, Swayambhunath, Kasthamandap, Bhadrakali, Budhanilakanth, etc, etc. Along with these, every village in every district of Nepal has one or more local deity temples and there are KulDevta temples of every community.

Along with temples, there are so many Gumba and Bihar in Nepal. Most of the Gumba and Bihar which are places of worship for Buddhists are side by side with Hindu temples in Kathmandu valley. Swayambhunath, Seto Machhendranath, etc are some common places of worship for both Hindu and Buddhist and there are numerous such temples.

Boudhanath, Pullahari Monastery, Namobuddha, Seto Gumba, etc. are Buddhists monasteries located in Kathmandu valley. Both religions people visit these shrines to pray and worship their deities. There are many Shaktipeeth, the temple of Adi Shakti or Durga and other goddesses in Nepal some of them are Ugratara, Shaileswori, Guheyashwori, Muktinath, Tripura Sundari, Gadhimai, Bhubaneswari, Bageshwori, etc.


Nepal is also best known for its unique flag which is the combination of two single pennons. The flag of Nepal is the only flag in the world which is not quadrilateral. It has three colors that are crimson red, white and blue. The flag also emblems of sun and crescent moon which are white in color in each penon. The color of each penon is red with a blue border. It is also the most mathematical flag.

Nepal Flag

Check out: Nepal Flag – History, Meaning, Facts and More


From ancient times, Nepal has been renowned for Ayurveda and herbs that are used for treatment. The geographical location of Nepal makes it a high potential for the growth of such herbs. The herbs that are found in the hills and Himalayas of Nepal have always been renowned for treating numerous diseases.

Herbs such as Spikenard (Jatamasi), Caterpillar fungus (Yarsagumba), Panch Aaule (Dactylorhiza hatagirea), Hemp (Bhang), Padamachal (Himalayan Rhubarb), Satuwa (Paris polyphylla), etc have high importance in Ayurveda and herbal medicine. It is believed that around 700 to 1600 species of medicinal herbs are found in Nepal.

Check also: Nepali Food – Top 10 Foods You Need to Know

  • Do Nepali people speak English?

Yes, Nepali people do speak English. Most of the people in Nepal speak Nepali English which is a variety of English influenced by the Nepali language. Many Nepali speak English as a second language as a primary language being Nepali. English is spoken for business purposes, international communication, trade, and offices. Nepali English is known as Nenglish.

In the 1850s, modern English education had begun in Nepal. Although, English in Nepal was mostly taught and influenced by Britishers. But there is little or no consensus among teachers and practitioners on whether to follow British or American variants of English or allow the development of Nenglish.

The variety of English spoken in Nepal is different than other South Asian countries as most of the South Asian countries speak English in an Indian accent. As in India, English is spoken to communicate internally with South Indian states within India as they don’t understand Hindi properly.

But Nepali learned English to communicate with a distant world such as the UK, Australia, the USA, etc. So Nepali English sounds are different than Indian English. The visit of Prime Minister of Nepal, Janga Bahadur Rana, to Britain played a high influence to start English education in Nepal but English education was only limited to the Royal family and Rana family members.

Every school in Nepal teaches English and most of the private organizations such as banks, schools, hospitals allow documents to be filled in English. Many of the academic documents such as transcripts are only available in English as well as citizenship documents are available in Nepali and English language. So, there is heavy use of English and most of the younger generation can easily communicate in the English language.

  • Is Nepal a Hindu country?

Nepal is a country with the highest percentage of the Hindu population in the world, but it became a secular country in 2008 ending the world’s last Hindu Monarchy. Although even when it was the Hindu Kingdom from centuries, there were no restrictions to practice any religions of other religious groups at any point in time in the history of Nepal.

Nepal always has freedom of religion and there has been no interference of government with religious groups in practicing religions. It can be said religious tolerance and harmony is the beauty of Nepal. Nepal is the place of origin of Hinduism as well as Buddhism and Kirant religion which has been practiced for centuries in Nepal. Along with Hinduism, Buddhism and Kirant, Islam, Sikh, Jain, Bodhi faith, etc are also practiced in Nepal.

hindu traditions

Though it is a secular country, it can be said it is a Hindu populated country. About 81.3% of people follow Hinduism, 9% follow Buddhism, 4% of people follow Islam, 3% of people follow Kirant and about 1.4% of people follow others. There are many similarities in beliefs and way of practicing the religion such as Hinduism, Buddhism, Kirant, Sikh, and Jain, so sometimes they are attributed as Omkar Parivar which have at least something common in gods they follow or have the same place of worship or philosophy or common deity and way of worshipping them.

There is never a dispute about religion in Nepal because the religion that people of Nepal originally follow doesn’t see any differences in their religion with others that are practiced originally in Nepal such as Hinduism, Buddhism, and Kirant. The same deity which is worshipped by Kirant is also worshipped by Hindus and vice versa such as Kiranteshwor Mahadev (an incarnation of Lord Shiva) and the same deity which is worshipped by Buddhists is also worshipped by Hindus and vice versa such as Machhendranath, Buddha (an incarnation of Lord Vishnu).

As Hinduism is a concept or identity given by foreigners to the people in South Asia following a common way of worshipping their gods, otherwise if Hinduism was categorized with a single main god that people follow there would be hundreds of different religions in Nepal only and millions of religions from Hinduism itself.

There are Vedic and Non-Vedic Hindu traditions, sects and tribes and there are numerous Non-Vedic Hindu sects that can emerge as independent religions such as Kirant. Actually, Hinduism is a combination of all kinds of worshipping of gods and as well as nature which also includes atheist people and deities of different tribes and villages of South Asia which made Hinduism a vast religion and identity of people living in South Asia.

Christianity has increased among people following Kirant and Buddhism and has been seen a decrease in the percentage of people following these two religions and an increase in the percentage of people following Christianity exponentially.

There were only 0.4% of people following Christianity in the 2001 census but it increased up to 1.4% in the 2011 census by decreasing the percentage of people following Buddhism and Kirant. Currently, the Christian population is growing faster than any other religion in Nepal and Christian Missionaries are working secretly to convert people to Christianity by showing some kind of temptation and bait.

  • How many languages are there in Nepal?

There are 123 spoken languages in Nepal. Nepali is the official language of Nepal and all the native languages spoken in Nepal are the national language of Nepal. Most of the languages belong to the Indo-Aryan and Sino-Tibetan language families and some of them are from Austro-Asiatic and Dravidian language families.

However, some of the “language isolates” like Kusunda are on the verge of extinction with no new speakers as the ethnicity had a low population and interethnic marriage is practiced nowadays and there is no new learner of that language. The most spoken language is Nepali which is about 44.6% and the second most spoken language is Maithili which is about 11.67%.

  • What is the legal age for marriage in Nepal?

The legal age for marriage in Nepal is 20 years of age for both males and females as per the existing law. However, if the marriage is with parental consent, both male and female can marry at the age of 18.

Before this law legal age of marriage for women was 18 as it is believed that women get maturity before men. But for gender equality, the Government of Nepal has changed the age for women and made it equal to man’s age.

  • What is the legal age of consent in Nepal?

The legal age of consent for sexual activity in Nepal is 16 years of age regardless of gender or sexual orientation.

  • What is the literacy rate of Nepal?

The literacy rate of Nepal is 67.9% for the total population above 15 years of age and it is 92.39% for population at the age of 15-24 years of age in 2018. The literacy rate of Nepal in 1981 was only 20.57% which has increased to 67.9% in a period of 37 years.

  • What is the life expectancy of Nepali people?

According to the WHO data published in 2018, the average life expectancy of Male in Nepal is 68.8 and females is 71.6 and total life expectancy in Nepal is 70.25 years. Nepal ranks at 117th position in the World Life Expectancy ranking published by WHO.

  • What is the Nominal GDP Per Capita of Nepal?

The Nominal GDP Per Capita of Nepal is 1,047.739 USD in July 2019 according to the International Monetary Fund (IMF). It is expected to be 1,176.582 USD in July 2020.

  • What is the National game of Nepal?

Volleyball is the national game of Nepal. Volleyball was declared as the national game of Nepal on May 23, 2017. Prior to volleyball, unofficially Dandi Biyo or Kabbadi were believed to be the national game of Nepal. Most people still don’t know Volleyball is the national game of Nepal.

Volleyball was chosen as the national game as it can be played in any kind of geographical terrain of Nepal. Whereas the unofficial national games, Dandibiyo and Kabbadi, were traditionally played in rural areas, also in every kind of geographical terrain of Nepal and don’t require any kind of infrastructure to play as required in Volleyball.

  • Are Nepali people friendly?

Yes, Nepali people are normally friendly in nature. They are mostly cheerful and loyal. Nepali treats guests as gods as there is a phrase in Sanskrit, “Atithi Devo Bhava:” which means “Guests are gods”. They are mostly hospitable by nature and always been best friends of travelers. Nepal has been one of the safest and oldest ways to travel to China from the Indian Subcontinent and they have always been welcoming and hospitable to travelers and guests in Nepal.

Nepal also allows hundreds of tourists to visit Nepal and feel the presence of a clean and green environment and mountains. They always have been guides for tourists and guests. In general, also, Nepali never break friendships with friends and remain loyal to their friends. They will always return your Namaste with a smile.

  • Is there a capital punishment in Nepal?

No, capital punishment has been abolished from Nepal by legal reform in 1946. However, it was fully abolished for all crimes on 9 November 1991. The last capital punishment was executed in 1979.

  • What is the culture like in Nepal?

Nepali culture is based on traditional values and religious beliefs and is a mixture of the Indian subcontinent and Tibet. As we know, culture values are set by traditional beliefs and religions, Nepali culture is also influenced by religions like Hinduism and Buddhism. The culture of Nepali people is to live in peace and harmony with coexistence.

There are different cultural dances which are different in each region, some of them are Deuda, Dhan Nach, Ghatu Nritya, Sorathi Naach, Maruni Naach, Chandi Naach, Mayur Naach, Lakhey Naach, etc. There are different types of folk songs and singing styles which are Deuda songs, Palam, Tamang Selo, Jhaurey, Terai Holi Song, Teej Songs, Deusi Bhailo songs, Bhajan, Aarati, Dohori, etc are some forms of singing styles based on Nepali culture.

Nepal has a diverse culture in each region; however, some festivals are celebrated by everyone such as Holi, Dashain, Tihar, Deusi Bhailo, Gai Jatra, Maaghi, etc. There is almost every day a festival in Nepal. People worship different animals such as cows, elephant, monkey, dogs, snakes, etc and plants such as Bar (Banyan Tree), Peepal, Tulsi, Amla tree, etc are also worshipped as well as stones or mud such as Shaligram, Shivalinga, etc and overall nature as they believe everything has presence of God in it.

A cow is considered as a Universal mother and slaughtering of cows is illegal in Nepal. Dal, Bhat, Roti, Tarkari, pickles are day to day cuisine of Nepali and have different special cuisines also in each culture. People traditionally do arrange marriages which are arranged by parents. It is normal to see two or three generations living in the same family as most of the people live in joint family and family is the most important for Nepali.

Juniors always respect the elders by traditional greetings of different cultures such as Dhog by bowing or touching feet or Darshan or by Namaskar and Namaste, etc. People fasts on different religious festivals and stay pure on such days. Alcohol and meat consumption can be seen normal in different ethnic groups for religious purposes but it is taboo in others, but none has an objection to the differences in culture and they also respect each other. So, the culture of Nepali is different in different places of Nepal.

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