You might already know that India is in many ways very different from the western civilization. There is no denying that their way of life is very different from ours and that because of that, we often do not know how to behave in India and what kinds of things are acceptable and what kinds of things might offend them. If you are about to travel to India, it is advisable that you get acquainted with their traditions and customs so that you make sure that you do not end up doing something disrespectful.
When it comes to what you should wear, it is important to realize that although there are foreigners who wear whatever they want, if you want to be welcomed and if you want to make sure that you are not doing anything wrong, cover your shoulders if you are out in the street and do not wear short skirts, unless you are in a car and you plan to visit a bar.
An interesting thing about Indian people is that they often do not look each other in the eye when they talk to each other. In fact, staring at someone’s eyes is considered to be rude, which is the opposite of what we do in the western world. Of course, you are allowed to look in their eyes, but make much less eye contact than you usually would.
The most common way to greet someone is to put your hands together (as if you were praying), say Namaste and slightly bow. Hand shaking is acceptable, but only with younger and more urban people. And whatever you do, make sure that you use your right hand for handshaking because the left one is, according to them, reserved for the activities in the bathroom. With women, the safest thing that you can do is to avoid handshaking and do the Namaste greeting, unless the woman offers her hand first, in which case a hand shake becomes acceptable. Another important thing to remember is that you should never talk to an Indian woman if she is alone because this is considered inappropriate even if you are simply asking for directions.
When it comes to the gestures that you should avoid, keep in mind that winking and whistling is not appropriate as it often has sexual connotations. Avoid it all together even if you are among your friends and there are no natives close to you. Someone might see you and they might be offended. As well as that, pointing your finger at something or someone is unacceptable. Use your hand or you chin instead. In restaurants, if you want to call the waiter, snapping and hissing are both acceptable while whistling and finger pointing is not.
And last but not least, when physical contact is in question, be aware that you should probably not exchange hugs and kisses with your partner as this is considered very rude. Save your intimate moments for your hotel room.Continue reading Indian tradition and customs