By Sharad KC

In Nepal, you always bow before your elders; arranged marriages are common; devotees visit temples every day; there are more festivals than days and more temples than total number of households. Nepal is unique and is truly Nepal only because of its culture and nothing else.

Culture is the set of principles followed that if reflected in one’s day-to-day activities. Culture makes and shapes a community. It is the backbone of every civilized society and acts as a harmonious tune that binds all the people of the particular society. People find their compatibility in their shared culture; the type of food they eat, the kind of dress they wear, the type of God to which they pray, the beliefs that they hold. It is a unifying thread that brings people with different sets of principles together. It is simply indispensable.

But saying this, it is not wise to assume that culture is to be followed blindly and without any foresight. Some practices in each and every culture are undefined and do not make sense or have been outdated with time. A good example would be this: Previously in our country, cleaning a household with a broom after sunset was considered a bad omen. The logical reason could be that any valuables that might be scattered could be lost as there was little or no light to assist us. But in the present age of electricity and light, it is only absurd to go on following the tradition blindly.

Basically speaking, culture is the concept of what is wrong and right and what is acceptable to the society. Culture reflects our way of living and thinking, and it differs from one region to another. For example, in Nepal most of the marriages are arranged by the family members without the groom and bride meeting with each other beforehand. They just go along with the wish of their parents and believe they have chosen the right spouse. Couples get to know each other only after marriage, whereas in Western culture love-marriage is preferred where couples know each other before marriage and choose the right partner for them.

So, culture is a core basis to our way of life which is why they should not be regarded lightly. It should be appreciated and valued for it is culture that makes up a civilization and civilization defines us as human. Learning to acknowledge and respect others’ cultures, even though they are not always compatible to our way of thinking, is appreciable and goes to demonstrate our human culture, the basic culture that defines all the others.