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My family is helping two people from Nepal to come to the United States to study, and their family will be visiting us temporarily. I was told that their family practices Buddhism, but I find myself somewhat lacking in knowledge on the religion/philosophy/culture that surrounds Buddhism. I don't wish to offend them or to put them into awkward situations, are there any significant things I should know? I've been reading online and I seem to get the impression that Buddhists do not eat beef. But do they eat meat at all?

I have a little statuette of the Buddha that a friend gave to me as a gift once when I was going through a phase with eastern philosophy, due to an inside not quite joke that I share with this friend she had drawn a geometrical symbol on the belly of the statuette. Would this be something they would find offensive?

To sum up my question: What do I need to know about Buddhism to interact with Buddhists from Nepal in a way that is respectful of their beliefs?

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Treat them like any other human beings - be kind. If you want to find out what they eat, just ask them. –  Rabbit Aug 13 at 15:18

3 Answers 3

I have been to Nepal on a retreat, it is a Hindu country, but there are many Buddhists.

The main Buddhism there is Mahayana by far, with a large influence from Tibet (monks who escaped after the situation with China).

Most of them do not eat meat (I spent days without eating meat there), but they used to eat eggs. You should ask, they will not be offended.

Most Buddhists take seriously how we treat a Buddha statue, so do not put it on the ground, do not put it on the bathroom or too close to shoes, treat it and buddhist books with basic respect, as if it were a guest in your house. Incenses are very common in Nepal, if you want to be extra nice you can put some together with the statue.

Most Nepalis I met (not monks) were very curious about technology and other cultures, internet there is very bad and slow, also it is a very, very poor country, so most of them dont know much about America, they will probably appreciate a visit around the city with some background stories :)

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As a Floridian Zen Buddhist, it is not the Buddhism that I would be concerned with. I would be more mindful of Nepal culture and cultural and language differences. Buddhism is buddhism really wherever you go, but cultural practices and cultural identity varies. Or in other words, Buddhism morphs and adapts to the culture and environment it is in. I do not know anything about Nepal, but perhaps googling Nepal culture or Nepal culture in America might be more beneficial than just Buddhism as a whole.

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You can erase the symbol and keep the statue in a high(respectable) place. Don't use it as a decorative item. Buddhist(Theravada) lay people are allowed to eat any type of meat. But your friends might be vegetarian due to personal preferences. They might also prefer spicy food since they are from South Asia. Avoid swearing and telling religious jokes. Buddhists don't say grace at the dinner table. So don't be surprised if they start having the meal immediately after sitting.

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