For a two page printable PDF of this information, click here.
Primary Language: Nepali
Primary Religions: Buddhist, Hindu, Christian, Kirati
Major Holidays: Diwali (siblings bless each other), Dashain (Parents bless children), Lhosar (New Year), and Sakela (Kirati holiday, but others celebrate as well)
Eye contact during conversation is standard. Greetings don’t typically involve touch; hands come to prayer position while bowing slightly and saying, “Namaste” (peace be with you). “Namaskar” is a more respectful/formal version of this greeting. Shaking hands between men and women is not common (but is not restricted). Tilting or ‘bobbing’ of the head shows someone is listening and/or agreeing.
Households typically include extended family and multiple generations. If you need to discuss an issue with a Bhutanese-Nepali family, invite the entire household. Privacy standards are different from what Americans might desire, especially where children are concerned (new arrivals may lack access to a car, so bear in mind transportation to school events may require assistance).
Having come from an environment in which parents knew all their neighbors, families may not supervise children as closely as U.S. parents are accustomed. Parents are less likely to engage in games and play with their children than their American counterparts. Traditionally, families eat twice per day so students may not have eaten breakfast before coming to school. Hindu families will not eat beef, and are often vegetarians.
This is a very diverse group of refugees in terms of life experience. Some have attended university and worked outside the camps. They can be highly educated and have lived in ‘westernized’ conditions. Others have never left the camps and have had no exposure to western amenities.
Nepal Sambat (नेपाल सम्बत) is the national lunar calendar of Nepal. The Nepali calendar is approximately 56 years and 8½ months ahead of our Gregorian calendar (A.D). There are 12 months, but dates of the month are not pre-determined and may vary. The months have a minimum of 28 days and maximum of 32 days. Birthdate horoscopes are valued culturally. However, many refugees are assigned official dates of birth of 01/01 during the immigration process for simplification purposes.
Bhutanese-Nepali names typically follow a three-part standard like most Americans of First, Middle, Last.
First names are not always gender-specific; the same name may be used for males or females. There may be a mother named Chandra with a son named Chandra, for example.
Middle names are gender specific.
Naming ceremonies take place 11 days after birth. Often an auspicious member of the community (such as a lama or priest) chooses the name based on birthdate/horoscope or some other spiritual connection.
As there are limited acceptable names to choose from, inevitably many people share the same combination of first and second names. To resolve potential confusion, an informal nicknaming system comes into play. Bhutanese-Nepali people typically use a “call-name” with family or friends that may sound nothing like their formal first name. They may not be accustomed to responding to their legal name in the U.S.; students may take time to adjust.
A person’s last name historically denoted their caste.
The caste system creates a social hierarchy; caste identifies position in society and influences choice of spouse as well as other social relationships.
Names commonly mispronounced by Americans (Emphasis should stress the first syllable):
Tamang = TAH-mah-ng (not may-ng)
Gurung = GOO-roong
- ‘Sh’ is more like a double ‘Ss’ sound; example Dinesh = Diness
- Rai = Rye, not Ray
Nepali Restaurants in Omaha
Inner Rail Food Hall (1911 S. 67th Street, Omaha, NE 68106)
- Owners Aagya Subedi, Rocky Shrestha, and Sagar Gurung are bringing authentic Nepalese street cuisine and Burmese ramen to Inner Rail Food Hall via Kathmandu Momo Station. In April 2019, husband and wife duo, Gurung and Mira Tamata, opened their first brick- and-mortar location of Kathmandu Momo Station in the Blackstone District of Nebraska with their partner Shrestha and guest chef, Subedi. Their newest restaurant will add to their concept in Blackstone District, serving Nepalese street food, with best-sellers being their momo and savory Burmese ramen. In addition, they will be expanding their focused menu with additional ethnic and authentic Nepalese and Burmese flavors that will only be offered at their Inner Rail Food Hall location.
Nepali Restaurant INC
5478 N 90th St, Omaha, NE 68134
822 N 40th St, Omaha, NE 68112
Information compiled by Alana Schriver (2019).