Proverbs, Culture

In all countries and languages, proverbs and sayings have been formed by societies to capture basic truths and perceptions based on the experiences of communities. This is true for Nepal's proverbs and sayings, which provide much insight into the culture, views and ideals of the people. Proverbs from Nepal are most often related to situation in life and general opinions. Well-known Nepalese proverbs can be heard in conversations and in the media, adding color to speech.

“A smart jackal is no match against an old tiger” (budo bagh ra syal tanneri) is a proverb which illustrates how Nepalese society feels about the older generation. Basically the proverb means that a clever young adult is no match for the experience of an older person. Another Nepalese proverb which presents a similar thought is “enjoy the heat of a log, and heed the advice of the elders.” This proverb expresses the importance of looking to older people for good advice, much like you would seek the constant heat of the fire of a burning mature log. Some Nepalese proverbs and sayings provide a type of moral education. An example is “parents are like or equal to god” (pitri devo bhava, matri devo bhava). This expressions shows the importance of showing parents respect.

Certain Nepali proverbs demonstrate an unfortunate perception held by men in the country. Proverbs such as “a macho man has ten wives”, “daughter’s birth, lost destiny” and “late birth but son necessary”, describe women as inferior human beings. Such proverbs sadly permeate the country even being found in certain textbooks. Efforts are being made to remove such sentiments and improve the status of women in Nepal through the eradication of such proverbs.

Below are some more well known Nepalese proverbs

“Wealth is both an enemy and a friend.”

“Like cumin in the mouth of an elephant.”
“Opportunity comes but does not linger.”
“It is the mind that wins or loses.”
“One who doesn’t know how to dance says the floor is crooked.”
“The monkey’s thigh is the shaman’s meat.”
“Looking for fire while carrying a lamp.”
“The god’s name in the mouth, but in the pocket a knife.”

Nepal’s proverbs and sayings are frequently used by the people. Many of them may have an multinational meaning, but still they maintain the strong Nepalese cultural heritage from where they come.

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