Friday, October 30, 2015
Urbanism, Architecture, use space, Food and Economy of Nepal.
Urbanism, Architecture, and the Use of Space
Nepal historically was one of the least urbanized countries in the world, but urbanization is accelerating, especially in the capital, and urban sprawl and pollution have become serious problems. Kathmandu and the neighboring cities of Patan and Bhaktapur are known for pagoda-style and shikhara temples, Buddhist stupas, palaces, and multistory brick houses with elaborately carved wooden door frames and screened windows. Although the largest and most famous buildings are well maintained, many smaller temples and older residential buildings are falling into disrepair.
At the height of British rule in India, the Rana rulers incorporated Western architectural styles into palaces and public buildings. Rana palaces convey a sense of grandeur and clear separation from the peasantry. The current king's palace's scale and fortress-like quality illustrate the distance between king and commoner.
Rural architecture is generally very simple, reflecting the building styles of different caste and ethnic groups, the materials available, and the climate. Rural houses generally have one or two stories and are made of mud brick with a
roof. Village houses tend to be clustered in river valleys or along ridge tops.
Food and Economy
Food in Daily Life
Many Nepalis do not feel that they have eaten a real meal unless it has included a sizable helping of rice. Most residents eat a large rice meal twice a day, usually at midmorning and in the early evening. Rice generally is served with dal, a lentil dish, and tarkari, a cooked vegetable. Often, the meal includes a pickle achar, made of a fruit or vegetable. In poorer and higher-altitude areas, where rice is scarce, the staple is dhiro, a thick mush made of corn or millet. In areas where wheat is plentiful, rice may be supplemented by flat bread, roti. Most families eat from individual plates while seated on the floor. Though some urbanites use Western utensils, it is more common to eat with the hands.
Villagers celebrate the end of the plowing season. Most Nepalese are subsistence farmers.
Conventions regarding eating and drinking are tied to caste. Orthodox high-caste Hindus are strictly vegetarian and do not drink alcohol. Other castes may drink alcohol and eat pork and even beef. Traditionally, caste rules also dictate who may eat with or accept food from whom. Members of the higher castes were particularly reluctant to eat food prepared by strangers. Consequently, eating out has not been a major part of the culture. However, caste rules are relaxing to suit the modern world, and the tourist economy is making restaurants a common feature of urban life.
Food Customs at Ceremonial Occasions.
At weddings and other important life-cycle events, feasts are generally hosted by the families directly involved, and numerous guests are invited. At such occasions, it is customary to seat guests on woven grass mats on the ground outside one's home, often in lines separating castes and honoring people of high status. Food is served on leaf plates, which can be easily disposed of. These customs, however, like most others, vary by caste-ethnic groups, and are changing rapidly to suit modern tastes.
The large majority of the people are subsistence farmers who grow rice, maize, millet, barley, wheat, and vegetables. At low altitudes, agriculture is the principal means of subsistence, while at higher altitudes agropastoralism prevails. Many households maintain chickens and goats. However, few families own more than a small number of cows, water buffalo, or yaks because the mountainous topography does not provide grazing land for large animals.
Nepal is one of the poorest countries in the world. This poverty can be attributed to scarce natural resources, a difficult terrain, landlocked geography, and a weak infrastructure but also to feudal land tenure systems, government corruption, and the ineffectiveness of development efforts. Foreign aid rarely goes to the neediest sectors of the population but is concentrate in urban areas, providing jobs for the urban middle class. The name of the national currency is rupee.
Land Tenure and Property
Historically, a handful of landlords held most agricultural land. Civil servants often were paid in land grants, governing their land on an absentee basis and collecting taxes from tenant-farming peasants. Since the 1950s, efforts have been made to protect the rights of tenants, but without the redistribution of land.
has exacerbated land shortages. Nearly every acre of arable land has been farmed intensively.
for wood and animal fodder has created serious erosion.
The majority of commercial activity takes place at small, family-owned shops or in the stalls of sidewalk vendors. With the exception of locally grown fruits and vegetables, many products are imported from India and, to a lesser extent, China and the West. Jute, sugar, cigarettes, beer, matches, shoes, chemicals, cement, and bricks are produced locally. Carpet and garment manufacturing has increased significantly, providing foreign exchange. Since the late 1950s, tourism has increased rapidly; trekking, mountaineering, white-water rafting, and canoeing have drawn tourists from the West and other parts of Asia. The tourism industry has sparked the commercial production of crafts and souvenirs and created a number of service positions, such as trekking guides and porters. Tourism also has fueled the black market, where drugs are sold and foreign currency is exchanged.
There was no industrial development until the middle of the twentieth century. Much of earliest industrial development was accomplished with the help of private entrepreneurs from India and foreign aid from the Soviet Union, China, and the West. Early development focused on the use of jute, sugar, and tea; modern industries include the manufacturing of brick, tile, and construction materials; paper making; grain processing; vegetable oil extraction; sugar refining; and the brewing of beer.
Nepal is heavily dependent on trade from India and China. The large majority of imported goods pass through India. Transportation of goods is limited by the terrain. Although roads connect many major commercial centers, in much of the country goods are transported by porters and pack animals. The few roads are difficult to maintain and subject to landslides and flooding. Railroads in the southern flatlands connect many Terai cities to commercial centers in India but do not extend into the hills. Nepal's export goods include carpets, clothing, leather goods, jute, and grain. Tourism is another primary export commodity. Imports include gold, machinery and equipment, petroleum products, and fertilizers.
Division of Labor
Historically, caste was loosely correlated with occupational specialization. Tailors, smiths, and cobblers were the lowest, untouchable castes, and priests and warriors were the two highest Hindu castes. However, the large majority of people are farmers, an occupation that is not caste-specific.
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