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Readers Respond: Have You Made a Mistake in Etiquette in India?

Responses: 10


From the article: 5 Indian Etiquette Don'ts

About.com readers share their tips to India etiquette.

What aspects of Indian etiquette have you found most challenging? Have you made any mistakes, or do you have some tips to share? Here's the place.

Etiquette in India

It is really amusing the way foreigners think about India. Basically, Indians are warm heated and co-operative people.We do not care nowadays what you wear as long as you do not go naked.As for people staring at you do not be offended.Mostly it is curiousity.In the metros hardly one will give you a look.There are sure enough black sheep but it is better to avoid them.Here you have plenty of freedom .In the absence of civic anemities you may see people urinating against the wall.Similarly ,when passing by trains you may see people squatting, in the open .These poor people are not lost in meditation but simply easing themselves.Don't get disturbed.India as a former U.S diplomat John Kenneth Galbraith famously said is a functioning anarchy.Do come to India enjoy and forget about the dress code,eating etiquttes whether you eat right handed or left handed is material.Yes,when visiting religious places do not forget to take off your shoes.


Honestly India is a large country where things change as you cross state borders: the food, dress, language and even culture. It's very hard sum up what is acceptable in India, although I think this article did a pretty decent job. But unfortunately it's all dependent on what region you're in. Also culture is ever changing, things like not passing with your left hand was due to washing yourself in the bathroom. Although now they have self washing toilets and toilet paper. These concepts have been forgotten in many urban areas and even most of Punjab. You should definitely wear clothing more conservitely in most areas unless you want to be grossly stared at and called indecent. But in Gujarat and major cities it isn't that big a deal to wear shorts, skirts and tight fitting jeans. Of all the countries in the world it is the most stereotyped even though it is the hardest to stereotype since everything changes based on region.
—Guest Khintanu

Left Hand

James, I think you are being awfully harsh to Micheal. He has an opinion about the whole concept and he is talking logic. Keep in mind that these traditions have been practiced for thousands of years, so it is only obvious to be inquisitive about their validity in modern times. Best
—Guest Rohit

About intriguing questions

Well!!! This ain't right at all when you say that Indians do anything but mind their own business. You are telling people not to get offended by us while what you are writing is highly offending in nature. We are the inquisitive lot who is always ready to extend a helping hand to people in their difficult times. India is a culture where people believe in the old adage- 'Athithi Devobhava'. So, you might want to correct what you have mentioned in the article.
—Guest Yamini

Passing Food With The Left hand

James, I am mildly amused at your response and, by the way - just for the record, I am far removed from being an idiot. Your response attacks my opinion but does not, even to the slightest degree, address and answer the fact that all food in an Indian kitchen IS prepared with both the LEFT and right hands. My assertion is simply that it's perfectly acceptable to do that and yet it is culturally a taboo to pass or eat it with the left hand. 1+1=3 ?? By the way, my wife and I have just returned from a 17 day stay in Nainital and Delhi where we enjoyed dosas prepared by cooks using their left hands. As to your instruction for me not to question other peoples culture may I respectfully pose the question "why not" ? You might consider the definition of the word "culture" to be found in any reputable reference work and bear in mind that we change our own culture faster than we imagine. India is the perfect example of very rapid cultural change. Questioning is the very root of all change.
—Guest Michael

Left hand

Micheal, you are an idiot. Don't question other people's culture. If you don't like or understand it just don't go. If you like dosa's then learn how to cook them at home with your left hand. As for scrupulous washing of hands in western culture - you must be joking!
—Guest Guest - James

response to tip no. 1

It would be better to choose the type of dress you want to wear, depending upon where exactly you want to go. If you are going in urban areas having good facilities and infrastructure, then you can wear shorts or skirts. But if you travelling in rural or crowded area which are famous or common, I would like to suggest to wear the dress which would cover your maximum body including legs, shoulders. The punjabi dress for women's especially would be nice, as it would also show respect about indian culture, good to wear in hot and humid climate of India and also it will avoid unnecessary staring by Indian mens. try to wear conservative. Why these thing to be considered? Since ancient time, it is going on, womens as well as men are wearing conservatively (sarees by womens and Kurtha and dotis/payjamas by mens), you can say it as cultural.
—Guest Akash

Passing Food With The Left hand

I have grown up in a Western culture where the scrupulous washing of hands after ( and sometimes before) toileting is always observed. My wife and I spend some 3 months plus in India every year and we love the place and the people. However, this so considered taboo of not handling or passing food with the left hand simply flies in the face of common sense and logic. I conjure up visions of all the kitchens of India staffed by cooks with right hands only ! It's O.K. to eat food prepared with someone's left hand as long as you only eat it or pass it with your right !! I am truly sorry if I offend people. That is not my intention. I simply wish to point out the absurdity of the notion and if I have offended I ask for forgiveness for what might be considered bad manners. It might be helpful to pass food on a serving plate/dish as well as using cutlery. Can't wait to get my teeth again into a good S.Indian masala dosa !!!
—Guest Michael

Tip No 1

Why is it that one should cover their lower legs, is it a cultural or religious thing to do? Ans: It's a modesty thing. Exposing legs (and in many places even shoulders) is considered indecent.
—Guest PAL

tip number1

most of the things are rite but just that the tip 1 is not true.. past few decades have undergone a lot westernization at least in dressing and the attires in india tat its not true about wearing shorts and skirts.. yeah ofcourse i wouldnt suggest wearing a tube top or hot shorts in india despite of the demading weather!

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