How to Avoid Taboo in India

India is a magical country to visit and certainly one of my all-time favourite countries to explore. I don’t think I’ll ever stop visiting, as there’s so much to see, learn and discover. It’s predominately a Hindu country; however, it’s home to other religions such as Islam, Buddhism, Sikhism, Christianity, Jainism and many more. Depending on where you’ll visit, you’ll find different disciplines and etiquettes being practices. Some parts of the country are conservative whereas others a slightly more liberal. However, arguably as a traveller, you don’t want to come across ignorant or close-minded. Therefore, how do you avoid taboo in India?

Use Your Right Hand to Eat Food

Similar to Nepalese etiquette, in India, people eat food with their right hand. The left hand is used for the bathroom and seen as offensive if used to eat. As it’s deemed as unclean. However, if you choose to drink water or wash dishes, the left hand is ok. Likewise, before you have your meal, wash your hands. If your hand is dirty from eating and you want more food, ask someone else to serve you.

Careful on the PDA

As India is mainly a Hindu country, the mindsets can be a little conservative. Be cautious using public displays of affection in public areas. You may see men holding hands in the street; however, that’s normal and a sign of friendship. 

Be Mindful on Your Clothing

Ladies, I’d suggest covering your shoulders and legs when travelling to conservative areas. If you’re travelling to the likes of Goa or Kerala sure wear shorts. However, if you’re travelling showing these body parts in other areas, you may get unwanted attention by men. Likewise, women or elders looking at you out of disrespect. If you are visiting temples or shrines, men and women both cover your heads and legs.

Remove your shoes before entering homes or temples

How to Avoid Taboo in India

To be honest, this is relevant to many parts of Asia as feet are considered dirty. Before you enter someones home, temple or anywhere else remove your shoes.

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No pointing with feet or hands 

Just like many other places, pointing is classed as impolite. If you want to acknowledge something, use the palm of your hand facing upwards. Likewise, don’t use your feet to indicate what you want. As mentioned earlier, feet are incredibly dirty.

Bring gifts to avoid taboo in India

If you’re visiting someone’s house for the first time, try and bring a gift if possible. It’s not necessarily the custom. However, the guest appreciates it a lot. What works more me is I usually purchase local sweets or dessert, which is guaranteed to be liked. It’s a great way to begin a potential new friendship!

Refrain from giving money to Beggars

Sometimes when you encounter a beggar on the street in India, demanding money, they don’t want to work. Especially children, they may well have been indicated by adults to go out and beg on their behalf. What you can do is provide gifts to them such as pencils, notebooks or sweets. You can’t give money to everyone, and not all are genuine.

There you have it, 8 essential tips on How to Avoid Taboo in India.


Extracts of Alex

Navigating Nepal and the World

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