- Mar 9, 2019
To many Westerners and travelers from the U.S., Indian customs may seem very stiff or formal. When it comes to verbal greeting, a simple English “hello” will usually suffice. As a polite gesture, you may want to try greeting someone in the native language of Hindi. Greetings vary between religions: for Hindus, say “namaste,” for Muslims, say “salaam alaykum,” and for Sikhs say “Sat sri akal.” Shaking hands is not the greeting custom in India. Some exceptions may be that Indian women will shake hands with Western women, but they will probably feel uncomfortable shaking a Western man’s hand. Many Indian people, especially Hindus, usually press their palms together (“praying style”) in front of their chest and bow. It is best to stand an arm’s length or more away from the person you are speaking to, as the Indian people value their personal space.