Do’s and Don’tsSahal
Does and don’ts in Tibetan culture
In a Monastery
- When visiting a monastery, do not touch religious images and objects and avoid taking photographs inside unless it is authorized.
- Do not wear shorts, tank tops, or other revealing clothing when visiting monasteries.
- Do not smoke or drink alcohol in or around the compounds of the monasteries.
- Do not enter the enclosure of a monastery if your breath smells of alcohol or garlic.
- Remember to always walk around monasteries and stupas in a clockwise direction, except for in Bonpo monasteries.
- Do not point fingers at representations of gods or high lamas. Instead, gesture with your hand open and palm up as a sign of respect.
- Keep money in small change for poor pilgrims.
- Take off your hat at the entrance of the monastery.
- Do not throw tissues or spit into fires.
- Do not urinate at rivers or roads near the monasteries.
In a Family Home
- When you are invited into a family home always allow the host, elders and children to enter a room first.
- Tibetans do not eat horse, dog or monkey meat, and do not eat fish in certain areas. Please respect their eating habits.
- When you receive a gift, always present your two hands to receive and lean slightly forward as a sign of gratitude.
- Say “Tashi Delek” to the family and sit according to the arrangement provided by the host.
- When you go to sit or if you want to get up, avoid crossing over people who are seated – instead, go around them.
- In a nomadic tent, do not step over utensils for food which are often placed on the floor, or over religious objects.
- In a camping tent, people can sit crossing their legs on the ground but this position is not permitted for women, except for nuns.
- Do not place your feet, shoes, or socks over a stove. Stoves are considered special or holy areas inside the home as this is where a ‘naga’ (spirit) resides.
- If babies are present in the family do not approach too closely or touch them without the permission of the host.
- When you leave your host you may hug or shake hands, but in no case should you kiss.
- When you visit a nomad’s tent, avoid any physical contact with women so as not to embarrass them.