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Indian Customs When Visiting Someone’s Home

Visiting someone’s home in India obliges you to treat the host with utmost courtesy and respect, especially if it’s your first time. To shine as an exceptional and always-welcome guest remember mother dear’s missive to ‘Be polite!’ Also, a little research beforehand helps you avoid any major faux pas.

In India, the hosts are incredibly welcoming and cater to the needs of the guests in the most lavish manner. This is mainly due to the firm belief of Indians in an old Sanskrit saying ‘Atithi Devo Bhava’ that means ‘Guests are the forms of God’. These words lay down the ideal host-guest relationship in India.

In order to get you the perfect guest score, we’ve done the groundwork so you are confident when you are invited to an Indian home.

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Accept the invitation cordially

If you’ve frequent interaction with your Indian acquaintances, chances are you’ll be invited to their home for a meal. Refrain from rejecting the invitation unless you have a plausible reason. Inviting someone to their home is an Indian way of expressing respect and affection.

Greeting, The Indian Way

When you visit, make sure to learn also more about the Indian greeting habits in the guide below.

Bring a gift for the honouree

Taking a beautifully wrapped gift for the host is appreciable guest etiquette that shows your gratitude to the host. Should you face a difficulty deciding what to get, a box of sweets or any item from your culture is welcomed. Also, you can never go wrong with home decor, flowers, and artisan type chocolates.

Follow Indian standard time

It is there for a reason! In India, it is considered bad manners to arrive sharp on time, much to the consternation of some exceptionally punctual Westerners.  While it is best to arrive 15-20 minutes late, make sure it’s not too late. Anything later than 30 minutes toes the inconsiderate line.

Dress Modestly

While the clothing ranges from conservative to very modern, it’s best to always err on the side of the caution. If you’re invited to someone’s home avoid revealing clothes and exposed skin as these are frowned upon and make everyone uncomfortable. While the fairer sex is more pressurized to dressing modestly, men are also expected to put on decent attire. Of course, this depends also a lot of the person you’re visiting.

Wear a clean pair of socks

Many traditional Indian families usually take off their footwear outside the main door as they are considered unclean. This custom is no more followed in some households so you can wait to be instructed by the host. And when in doubt, do what the host does.

Return the salutations pleasantly

The commonest way to greet anyone in India is to hold hands together and say ‘Namaste’ which means ‘I greet you with no previous inhibitions or prejudices. While shaking hands is becoming quite an ordinary practice, refrain from giving hugs and air kisses unless the host initiates it. 

Don’t refuse a glass of water

It is customary in India to offer a glass of water to the guests on their arrival. This tradition dates back to ancient days when people had to walk miles bearing scorching heat due to lack of efficient transportation. Although the modes of transportation got better with time, this tradition got rooted in society. Even if you’re not thirsty, take a sip to show respect.

Stay for Dinner

Out of respect the host may ask you to stay for dinner. Don’t refuse, unless you’ve a good reason. For more information about eating habits and table manners read the article below:

Get the conversation going..

There is no surer way to a horrible visit for your host and for yourself than a colossal failure to start a chat. One trick to get the conversation going is to talk about politics and culture without sounding derogatory or condescending.  Also, beware of your appendages for some of them, like pointing finger, is considered rude.

At the end of the visit, make sure to pay the same respect by inviting the host to your place. Of course, prepare and treat them with the same hospitality as they treated you.

Happy visiting 🙂

About Author

I'm a passionate writer with degree in Indian Literature. In the past, I've worked for multiple Indian consulates worldwide and today I'm a happy wife and mother of 2 sons.

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