Sunbathing the Nepali Way

My family in the US has been skyping us from sunny Florida, and it’s making me miss warm weather. As I mentioned in this post about my toes, the cold is really getting to me, so I’ve been trying to get a little bit of the sun my family is soaking up this week by sunbathing on our roof.

In Nepal, there are multiple ways to balance the hot and cold in your body. One way is to eat certain foods at different times of the year or on certain occasions. Oranges are a cold food, so they shouldn’t be eaten when you have a cold or cough because they supposedly make it worse, as I mentioned in this post. I ignore this a lot of the time, though, because they have so much Vitamin C, something I was always told to eat when sick.

Sugar is a warm food. A few weekends ago, Nepalis who are part of the Newar ethnic group in Kathmandu celebrated Yomari Purnima. This is a holiday celebrated on the day of the full moon in December, and those who practice it make little dumplings called Yomari, which are often stuffed with a sweet paste made of molasses and sesame. (Ironically I’ve only ever eaten these in the US, at a family friend’s house, but never in Nepal). Anyway, the Yomaris are supposed to be a hot food, good for winter because they’re sweet. Honey is also considered to be a hot food, and some people won’t eat it in the summer because they’re afraid it will make them too warm.

I also just learned the other day that after women give birth, their bodies are thought to be cold. So a special food called gutpak is made for them to eat. This food supposedly warms up their bodies. It has sugar and spices in it and is both sweet and bitter (I think because of the methi, fenugreek, that’s in it).

My host family sitting on a sukul

The way to get rid of the cold in Kathmandu is to eat food that is thought to produce warmth like Yomari and to of course dress warmly, but you can also sunbathe. Because women’s bodies are considered to be cold after giving birth, they are often encouraged to sunbathe with their babies.

Traditionally, Nepalis might have taken sunbaths on woven mats called sukul (and many still do). To the right is a picture of one of my host families sitting on a sukul.

But we don’t have one at our house, so we’ve been using a styrofoam mat that we found in a closet.

Over the weekend, we brought a few oranges, a computer, and some books up to the roof to just hang out and relax…

Our Sunbathing Spot

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12 thoughts on “Sunbathing the Nepali Way

  1. When I read this to Alexandra, she reminded me of a reason newborns need sun. Sometimes babies are born with jaundice. Their bilirubin count is too high. This is a problem with the liver. Western doctors use light therapy to help the baby metabolize the bilirubin. I remember your grandma saying she put me in a sunny window to help my jaundice.

  2. I love sunbathing during winter time especially with oranges and some peanuts. Ahh..that’s a bliss!
    I see from the above picture that you have a blue mat on a cement concrete. You might need a thick mat. Otherwise the damp cold from the cement will get you.

    • Tri feels the same way 🙂 He was so excited to start sunbathing this winter (something he hasn’t done in Nepal in so long). The mat has seemed okay so far, but I’ll check it out. Maybe we need to change it.

  3. My boyfriend told me, if he have a cold the he eat meals more spicy……….
    In our flat in Basundhara we have a roof top too and I enjoyed many days there.
    We have a balcony too, but there is no sun.
    So a mat we have too and the same color………smile…
    I wish you a happy new year………

  4. The fenugreek makes sense. That is used to increase milk supply and the amount of fat in the milk. Perfect for chubbing up brand new babies. I love Nepali “superstitions”. The more I learn about them the more I love them. Like wearing a scarf for a cough. I never had thought of that. I grew up in Florida, where even during the rough times of the year, you wouldn’t need a scarf. But wearing a scarf really does help me. I was also told not to sleep with my head facing north. I’d been sick for 9 weeks straight last year and was told to sleep with my head facing a different direction. I switched and within one week I wasn’t sick anymore. Can’t say for sure it was changing how I slept, but coincidence no?

    • That’s really neat. I didn’t know that fenugreek does that.

      Yeah, there are so many superstitions! I’m like you…I’ve started to believe a lot of them because I hear so many anecdotes that attest to their truth.

  5. Pingback: Co-sleeping & Why I Think Asian Parents are Right about It « Padmini's Svorga

  6. I think it won’t be allowed if you enjoy the sunshine with Bikini in this country~~~I have seen other interesting stories about Nepali on my-travel-mate.com . Hope to get a chance to trip there.

  7. I’ve started learning a lot more about this diet of hot and cold foods. The practice is based on “doshas” in ayurvedic medicine. I wrote a post on this recently and kept thinking back to your post here.

  8. Pingback: Hot and Cold Nature, a Nepali Perspective « Padmini's Svorga

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