Do’s and Don’ts in India

If you’re going to India, you’ll be amazed with its rich culture, traditions, festivals and nature. It has unimaginable internal diversity, variety of religions, people, customs and languages. Even though people in India are very tolerant for tourists and foreigners, it is useful to get know the local customs.


Do bring small gifts, when you are invited to one’s house.

It can be as small as some sweets or a postcard from you country.

Do greet people in hindi.

People appreciate this a lot. Saying simple Namaskaar will made them very pleased. However, they prefer to talk in English, if they know it. It indicates that they are well-educated or from upper class.

Do greet elder people with respect.

In India, elder people are treated with a great esteem. The best way to greet elder people is by bowing, touching their foot and then touching your forehead or heart. It is a sign of respect.

Do ask many questions.

People are very helpful, but be careful with gender or religion questions concerning matters such as casts and inequality.

Do use the pre-paid taxi counters at airports.

Try to never hire a taxi directly from the street, they will never use taxi-meter and simply deceive you. At a hotel, ask to hire you one.

Do drink only bottled water.

Your immune system may not be accustomed for local tap water.

Do take worse clothing with you.

Streets in India are very dirty, good clothes can get damaged immediately

Do bargain when you buy at roadside stalls.

You can bargain even with half price, but don’t do that in normal shops with displayed fixed prices.

Do vaccinate yourself before departure.

Do exchange money only through authorize banks or money chargers.

Don’t eat or pass anything with your left hand.

Related to Hinduism, left hand is considered not pure and connected only with impure activities or matters, such as excrements. It will be highly offensive if you pass any object or touch someone with your left hand.

Don’t wear revealing or too tight clothes.

People in India are rather conservative concerning clothing. Men don’t wear shorts, women don’t uncover their legs. Of course you can do it, and perhaps no one will comment it, however dressing appropriately will get you more respect. Furthermore, concerning women safety, you won’t attract any unwanted interests from local men.

Ladies, don’t confront staring Indian men.

Better to cast your eyes down and away. This is the sign that you don’t want any further interaction.

Don’t wear your shoes indoors.

Feet and particularly shoes or sandals are considered not pure. Take of your shoes before entering someone’s house or a temple. Also, if you see shoes at the shop’s entrance, it’s good to take them off as well. If you accidentally touch someone with your foot, remember to appologize. Also, you shouldn’t point at anyone with your feet, while sitting on the ground, always cross your legs.

Don’t offer to shake a hand of person of the opposite sex, unless she/he does so first.

The best way to greet someone it is just to press your hands together with fingertips pointing up and to bow your head a little, saying Namaskaar, it’s more formal than popular Namaste, yet  more appropriate, especially among upper class.

Don’t walk over or touch with your feet books or newspapers.

For Hindu people they are a metaphor of God’s learning, considered sacred.

Don’t smoke or drink alcohol in public.

It’s offensive.

Don’t buy food from roadside stalls.

It can be dangerous for your health since your immune system is not used to that kind of food.

Don’t take bath in rivers or drink its water.

Being in sacred places like Varanasi and seeing Hindu people taking sacred ablutions might made you want do the same thing. However, it’s highly dangerous for your health. Rivers (despite their sacredness) are extremely polluted.


Karolina Papis