Indian Etiquette

Saranghae

Saranghae

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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.
 
Tramstep

Tramstep

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Oh so indians are sentient about personal space but when it comes to shitting in the street oh no bro all sentience is gone.
 
Saranghae

Saranghae

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Head, Hands, and Feet

Although Westerners are used to using both hands in everyday life, it is important to be conscious of using each hand for different activities. In Indian culture, the left hand is considered unclean because it is the hand used when going to the bathroom, for cleaning one’s feet and other “dirty” activities. Always eat and interact with people with your right (“clean”) hand. Not only is this the respectful custom, you may appear unsanitary and unhygienic to those around you if you use your left hand incorrectly. Another non-Western habit is that pointing with your fingers is considered rude. Most Indian people use their fingers only to point to animals or inferior classes. Instead, use a head nodding gesture or your entire hand when pointing to a person. Feet are another body part that has significant meaning in India. Feet and shoes are considered the lowest and dirtiest part of the body, which is why it is customary to take off your shoes before entering someone’s home or a temple or mosque. Touching the feet of honored holy men or elders and then touching your head is a great sign of respect, as well.
 

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