tibet peopleBefore traveling to Tibet, making clear about some Tibetan taboos is a must. Below are etiquettes and taboos for travelers to Tibet including rituals, food, religion and other aspects.

1. Ritual taboos

  • For the elders, monks, teachers, do not call them by his first name, add the particle “la” at the end of a person’s name to express respect.
  • As you walk along the road, avoid rushing in front of others, especially for the elderly, monks and teachers.
  • When entering a house or a tent, people should sit up with his legs crossed. When seated inside, men sit on the left and women on the right. Men and women are not allowed to sit together.
  • It is tabooed to fart in front of others. This action will be regarded as ill-mannered and impolite.
  • Don’t speak loudly while crossing snowy mountains and passing by lakes.
  • When pouring tea for guests do not use dirty bowls or put your fingers on the rim of the bowl.
  • It is tabooed to whistle indoors or at nighttime, Tibetan people believe that whistling will attract ghosts and nocturnal spirits.
  • When accepting gifts use both hands; if hands are dirty, wipe them to show respect before accepting gifts.

2. Food taboos

  • It is tabooed to have the meat of horse, donkey, mule and other animals with round hoof. It is not allowed to eat the meat of cat, dog and other animals with sharp claw, as well as birds.
  • It is tabooed to stride over others’ kitchenware and foods.
  • It is impolite to spit in front of or behind others or clap hands behind others.
  • When have meal, you should not fill your mouth, make any sound when chew and drink.
  • It is tabooed to eat the meat of dead cattle dead sheep, dead pig.
  • When have meal, it is tabooed to turn the bowl upside down because Tibetans only place the bowl which was ever used by the dead with bottom up.
  • When the host presents you a cup of wine; you should dip your ring finger in the wine and flick the wine into the sky, in the air and to the ground respectively to express your respects to the heaven, the earth and the ancestors before sipping the wine.

3、Religious taboos

  • It is tabooed for religious people to kill anything, particularly for Buddhist monks and nuns, it is also tabooed to kill  living things in front of them.
  • When enter the temple, avoid wearing a hat, smoking, touching statues and other religious articles, avoid turning over the Buddhist books and knocking bells and drums.
  • It is tabooed to speak loudly, sing songs, dance and play in monastery and near monastery.
  • Rubbing things with the paper printed or written with scriptures is considered taboo.
  • Avoid pointing to Buddha statues, Thangka, scripture and fresco with fingers. You should use palm to show respect.
  • When meeting a lama, it is not appropriate to hug him or shake hands with him. The proper way is to hold the two hands upright, palms together in front of the chest, and lower the head.