Nepali customs

If there is one thing Nepalis have in abundance, it’s customs. Here’s a few of the most common:

Left hands, double hands and elbows

Nepalis use their left hand for dirty toilet-related work, and as a result, touching someone or something with your left hand is not a good idea. Using both your hands to for example give somebody something is just the opposite, and touching your elbow with your left hand while giving something with your right hand is about as respectful as you can get.


Jutho means contaminated and is practised primarily by the upper castes. Food is jutho if somebody touches it, rooms are jutho if someone unclean walks in it, and women are jutho if they are having their menstruation. Although lower castes and indigenous groups don’t have it ingrained into their customs, it’s a practice that is growing.

Feet and head

As Buddhists and Hindus believe that the head is the best part of the body and the feet are the worst, Nepalis never touch somebody with their feet. Unless of course, they have a very hierarchical relationship according to which the junior may bend down and touch their head to the senior’s feet (for example a child and their parent).

Similarly, a Nepali will never ever step over someone’s leg, and when walking past people sitting down, will dip their heads in recognition of respect.

Giving tikka

Tikka is a red powder used by Hindus in various practices. Most commonly people put it on one another’s foreheads as a blessing. Sometimes it is just a dry powder and sometimes its a wet gunk mixed with rice before being put on your head. Tikka high on the forehead in the hair parting is a sign of marriage for Hindu women.


Password Reset

Not to worry! Just type your email address here and we'll send you a new one.