Social distancing policies are here to stay. For many of us it’s a new custom and takes some getting used to. However, that’s not the case everywhere.
Have you been to Nepal? I have not. I have friends who have been to Nepal three times and stayed for up to as long as four months. They shared their impressions with me.
According to my friends, “It is an incredibly ancient and complex place. Everything ranges from one extreme to another. For example, in that narrow little land-locked country, there are three very different climates. The south is jungle, with elephants and Bengal tigers, one-horned rhinoceros, and sloth bears. The middle part of Nepal is where most of the people live in the Kathmandu Valley. Kathmandu is the largest city, with about one million inhabitants. It has a temperate climate, generally mostly warm. Although in our experience, it can get quite chilly. In the north, of course, are the highest mountains in the world, including Mt. Everest. It is an area of bitter cold.”
Nepal also has an ancient, centuries old custom of social distancing!
There is an interesting story about Nepal that relates to the “social distancing” which, as you are well aware, is being strongly recommended for all of us in the current circumstances. The story revolves around a custom of the Newari people, an indigenous tribe of the Kathmandu Valley. Among their unique rituals and traditions is the practice of imposing “isolation” upon newcomers to the Valley.
This video came to me from my friend mentioned above. Her friend, Kamal, whose family is Newari, is well aware of self-isolation practices. This eye-opening video is about these practices of the Newari people of the Kathmandu Valley.
As we all go through these pandemic times having parallel realities of the experience, I’m learning so much about different cultures and how they respond. It stands to reason that social distancing has been used for centuries as protection. Though the why of doing distancing is often similar from culture to culture, the how and more ritualistic sides of the practice can vary so much. That’s what’s fascinating!
Another interesting aspect of social distancing is that apparently people respond based on language and how social distancing is explained. Psychologists tell us that especially as a public health policy, the message is key to effectiveness. You can read more about that here.
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