India is one of the most culturally diverse nations in the world so much so that it could be extremely confusing for non-Indians. If you are planning a trip to this great nation and want to know about what you should and should not do when in India, then this list will be of great help to you. To an Indian, this list may not give any new insight into the culture but it would help a foreigner in gaining valuable information about rules, systems and traditions that might seem odd to him yet must be adhered to in India. In spite of the numerous oddities, the wonder and the color that exists in India can only be experienced by visiting the country. Here is a list of the top 10 oddities of Indian Culture every foreigner should know.
10. Temple manners:
If you are planning to trip to India as a tourist then there are some things you will have to remember. Shoes are considered dirty when you are going to a temple, so remember to take them off. Also if you are going to a place of worship then do not wear shorts. It is expected that whenever you visit a place of religious significance, your body, and especially the lower part, should be fully covered.
9. Overwhelming diversity:
A lot of people who come to India for the first time are shocked by the amazing diversity that exists almost everywhere in the country. The fact that no two separate regions, no matter how small they are, speak the same language is proof of that diversity. There are hundreds of languages spoken in the country. This diversity can sometimes give a foreigner quite a cultural shock.
8. Public etiquette:
Public Display of Affection (PDA) in India is not a common sight, and often not accepted. It is better to refrain from PDAs. Indians are not used to openly expressing their affections; think twice before you give your spouse a quick hug or a kiss in public. You may do so in nightclubs, parties or places where PDAs are socially accepted.
7. Feet and hand etiquette:
Feet are considered dirty so if you are invited to somebody’s home, take off your shoes. It is also important to note that the left hand is also considered dirty. When passing something like money or a gift to someone, it is a considered auspicious to use your right hand.
6. The festivals:
There are as many festivals in India as there are religions. The festivals in India are celebrated by one and all which show the unity of the nation in its diversity. It is a good idea to join in the celebrations if presented with an opportunity. There cannot be a better firsthand experience of the Indian culture.
5. Dinner etiquette:
Dinner is usually a family affair and the entire family sits around the head of the family. If you are having dinner in a traditional Indian home, don’t expect forks and spoons. Indians prefer to eat with their hands so wash your hands before you start eating. The experience of Indian culture and food in itself is an adventure for most and you should enjoy it to the maximum. You may ask eat you food with a spoon but many tasty Indian dishes can be best enjoyed with your hands.
4. Respect to the elderly:
Indians are highly respectful of their elders. To a person outside of India, they may even end up thinking that it is fear and not respect but that is just how much they respect their elders. Bowing the head, joining the palms together and, often, touching of the feet of elders is a standard greeting for any elderly person; however, friends and younger members of the family need not be treated in the same manner. If you meet someone elderly you may avoid the long process by simply bowing your head a little to show your respects.
3. The Multitude of Gods:
India is a land of many Gods. Not only is there immense diversity in religion but everyone seems to have their own set of Gods and that is true especially of Hindus. The Hindus have hundreds of thousands of Gods which is unseen in any religion of the world. The festivals in the name of these gods are also equally diverse and for a person who has only had a few Gods in their life before, this may take a while getting used to.
2. Living with parents:
Shocking as it may sound but it is true that Indians prefer to live with their parents even after they are employed and married. The joint family system is dwindling in Indian culture but single nuclear families choose to stay together. So don’t be taken aback if your Indian pal lives with his parents. This is because of the immense love that Indians share among family.
1. Curious stares:
If you are a foreigner who is visiting India, prepare yourself for the unwanted attention. Indians are a very inquisitive race of people and also a very hospitable one, but they are likely to stare at you if you are not a familiar face. This is something that a lot of people complain about, but in almost all cases of the locals staring at foreigners, it is more out of this really inquisitive nature of the people. Unless you are not inviting trouble yourself, you won’t be bothered.