15. What are the conventions on tipping and bargaining in Nepal?
These days bargaining is very accepted as compared to 20 years back. Sellers and purchasers both negotiate the price and enjoy doing so.
In restaurants it was normal to add about 10% service charge in earlier times but these days a 10% service charge is already included in the bill. So it is not compulsory to provide tips but some people still give a bit extra. You can check your bill to see if a service charge was included or not. For guides and porters in mountains it is customary to provide some tips. It depends on how much the service pleased you. Normally you can check the cost of living before you prepare for the tips. In city tours guides and drivers expect tips. This is the usual relation of visitors and service people here but it is not a hard and fast rule.
16. Please give us an overview of the culture and traditions of Nepal. What about festivals?
Nepal is a multicultural country so there are so many festivals in Nepal. But Dashain, Tihar, Teej, Udheuli and Ubheuli, Lhosar, Maghe Sakranti, Shiva ratri, Indra jatra, Ghode Jatra, Bhote JatraChhath puja are the main festivals in the country.
It takes place during the month of Asoj/Kartik in the Bikram Sambat calendar (September/ October). The Nepalese people indulge in the biggest festival of the year. Dashain is the longest and most auspicious festival in the Nepalese annual calendar, celebrated by Nepalese of all castes and creeds throughout the country. All the families reunite and are happy. It is mainly celebrated for the victory of good over evil.
Tihar is one of the most beautiful festivals. The weather during this season is usually very good, not too hot nor too cold. Mostly it is a light festival as well as a festival for brothers and sisters too. Cows, dogs, crows and bulls are also worshiped. During the light festival, the goddess Laxmi is worshiped for prosperity.
This festival is for women specially. They worship Mahadeva for a long life of their husband and prosperity. Unmarried girls wish for finding a good husband and a good life. Normally all married women are gathered in the maternal home and eat good food, sing and dance, dressed in red outfits.
Udheuli and Ubheuli
This festival celebrated in most parts of the country but it is special in the eastern hill area where the Rais and Limbus are settled. In the below picture there is mass of people celebrating the festival.
Normally it is believed that this is the Tibetian new year’s celebration. But in Nepal we also have many people who celebrate this festival. Good food, inviting relatives and friends, singing and dancing are all part of this festival.
Ghode Jatra, the Horse Racing Day, falls in the month of Chaitra (March/April). A grand horse parade takes place at Tundikhel. This is a very popular festival in the Kathmandu valley and specially celebrated in the Newari culture.