India is a great place to travel to. However, Indian culture is not quite the same as Western culture, and there are a few important points to note regarding etiquette in India. This ettiquette and culture can be referred to a “bharatiyata” or “of Bharat”. Bharat is the traditional name of India.
#1 Greeting Each Other
Most Indians are comfortable with a handshake, though a few may prefer a namaste. The meaning of namaste, which is the traditional Indian greeting, is “I bow to the divine in your.” It is performed by joining the palms together in front of the chest. Reciprocate with the same greeting that your business counterpart prefers, whether a handshake or namaste. Indian women may not be comfortable shaking hands with men, though they should have no problem with other women. A western woman can shake hands with other men and this is not considered a faux pas.
#2 Dining Etiquette
It is not unusual for your Indian friends or colleagues to as you over for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Most Indians are comfortable with and may prefer using spoons and forks. However, don’t be alarmed if you see some of them eating with their hands. Also keep in mind that Indian food can be quite spicy, so be sure to clarify the situation while ordering if you prefer little or no spice in your food. If you are the one inviting your counterparts for the meal, be aware that some Indian prefer not to eat on certain days for religious and spiritual reasons.
#3 Small Talk and Gifts
Indians can be quite casual and chatty, and it is not considered to rude to inquire about one’s family and children. You can do the same, but make sure to do so in a polite manner, avoiding any off-color or edgy jokes. Giving gifts is not mandatory on a first meeting, though it can happen from time to time. Give and receive gifts with both hands. Note that gifts are not usually opened or examined in the presence of the giver, though if the gift is unwrapped, be sure to say a few words on how wonderful it is.
#4 Sleeping Over
This happens rarely, but in case you are invited to stay over at the house of some friends, or are just spending the night before travelling on. In either case, some Indians sleep on a mat on the floor, though that is increasingly rare nowadays. Also, many Indians believe that it is inauspicious to sleep with the head facing towards the North. The best direction to sleep in is with your head pointing eastwards.