Experiencing a new culture can feel like trying to learn a new language. Each culture has its unique expectations, and as a foreigner, it can be difficult to understand all the nuances of a culture aside from your own. One culture that is exceptionally unique is Indian culture. India is a beautiful country that everyone should visit at least once. Everywhere you go in India, you’ll be exposed to so many new sensations – bejeweled Indian dresses in every color imaginable, fragrances that will instantly make your stomach growl with hunger, and music from ancient Indian instruments like the tabla and harmonium. There is so much to love about Indian culture, but for visitors, following a few Indian cultural do’s and don’ts will be super important during your stay. Today, we’re here to talk about some of those unspoken rules. If you want to learn all about four Indian culture do’s and don’ts before your journey to India, then keep on reading.
1. Do Dress Conservatively
When people visit the tropical and humid nation of India, they are often surprised at how modestly everyone dresses. Women wear Indian dresses or kurtas with pants if they prefer traditional Indian wear, and those who dress more Western can be found in full-length jeans and a modest blouse. Even men will almost always wear pants instead of shorts. When visiting India, every effort should be taken to dress modestly and fit in with the clothing style of Indian people. If you’re a foreigner visiting India, you’ll already be attracting enough attention as it is, but wearing immodest clothing will attract even more unwanted attention. Dressing conservatively is an easy way to respect the culture and blend in as much as possible. Any clothing store you stop by in India is sure to have a wide variety of Indian dresses and other clothing with a lot of coverage, so do yourself a favor, and avoid dressing provocatively or loudly while in India.
2. Don’t Show PDA
Concerning romantic relationships, traditional Indian culture typically leans more toward arranged marriages than toward love marriages, but in recent years, this balance has started to shift in favor of love marriages. Either way, it is critical that you refrain from showing public displays of affection – or PDA – with your partner in India. PDA is considered rude and immature, and as a foreigner, you’ll want to be taken as seriously as possible. Avoid kissing, hugging, cuddling, and hand-holding in public. Indian people around you will appreciate the gesture.
3. Do Bring a Gift to People’s Homes
If you get an invite to an Indian person’s house, then you’ll experience an intimate look at Indian culture that many tourists, unfortunately, don’t get to experience. Visiting someone’s home is a big deal, and Indian people are extremely hospitable and welcoming. To show your respect to someone who has invited you to their house, make sure to bring a gift for them upon your arrival. It could be something as simple as a nice box of chocolates, or, if you’re visiting from another country, you could gift them something unique to your own culture. Bringing a gift for the host demonstrates your appreciation and is the standard in Indian culture.
4. Don’t Wear Shoes in Houses or Temples
India is full to the brim with temples, so you might find yourself visiting one during your stay there (however, some temples will not allow anyone who is not Hindu to enter, so do your research before walking into just any temple). When you go to a temple, make sure to take off your shoes before entering. This is a sign of respect, and considering how sacred some devout Hindus treat their temples, it would be a cultural travesty if you disrespected someone’s worshiping place. This same principle applies to people’s homes, but in addition to respect, you should also do it to help keep their homes clean. The streets of India are typically very dirty, so walking around someone’s home with your shoes on will dirty their entire floor. Do your Indian hosts a favor by taking off your shoes at the door.