India’s diversity and natural beauty make it a country that tops many bucket lists. Although Indians are very friendly and hospitable people, it is always advised to follow the local rules and social customs so as not to offend anyone. For a safe and enjoyable trip, here is a list of things to avoid in India.
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Do not wear shoes and slippers inside the temple or at home
In India, it is customary to take off your shoes when entering religious places. Also, if someone invites you to their accommodation, be sure to remove your shoes before entering, unless the host has explicitly stated that you are not required to. Some Indians wear slippers indoors, but generally, they are for indoor use only and are never worn outside. This practice also extends to some shops. So if you see shoes at the entrance, it’s a good idea to put them on as well. Get cheap flight tickets to India and explore these amazing places.
Do not give or take things with your left hand
The left hand is considered unclean in India because it is generally only used to perform dirty tasks, such as cleaning after going to the toilet, undressing and putting on clothes, cleaning the feet, etc. Especially in religious settings, receiving prasad or alms with the left hand is considered unacceptable and inauspicious. Therefore, all situations involving food contact, passing or picking up objects, or interacting with people should be done with the right hand. However, for southerners, this is not mandatory!
Don’t point your finger or touch anything with your feet
Another rule of etiquette is to never lift a finger. This is considered rude. If you want to draw attention to someone or something, do so with your whole hand or thumb. Furthermore, touching people or things, especially books and educational equipment, with your feet is actually considered disrespectful. If this happened unintentionally, the Indians respectfully touch the object with their hands and bring it close to their eyes as an apology.
Don’t wear torn clothes
India is a mixture of modern and conservative minds, and clothing for women varies from region to region. You can wear whatever you want in metropolitan cities like Goa, Delhi or Mumbai. However, in smaller towns and cities, especially in rural India, it is highly recommended to dress modestly and not expose too much skin. Not only will this keep unwanted eyes away, but it will also help you blend in with the locals. Wear a shawl or scarf while going to a religious place.
Don’t expect to be punctual
Have you heard of IST? For the rest of the world, it is translated as Indian Standard Time, but for Indians, it means Indian Extended Time. Indians see time differently. For example, if someone says “I’m on my way,” it means “I haven’t left my place yet.” Mostly, five minutes equals 30 minutes, and 30 minutes equals one hour (or even two hours). It’s perfect here for being late to things – be it the public transportation system, meetings or social gatherings and events. So, next time you are invited to a party at 7:00 PM, show up at least 20 or 30 minutes later. Trust us, it wouldn’t be considered rude!
Don’t show affection in public
In India, PDA (public displays of affection) is frowned upon and, believe it or not, can land you in jail for up to three months (although there are some caveats). Therefore, it’s best to avoid all PDAs (including hand-holding in some places) so you don’t have to deal with moral censorship or sad looks.
You do not have political or religious conversations
Do not talk about or criticize Indian politics, or insult any particular religious or ethnic group. Although India is a democracy with freedom of speech, and many Indians are very vocal about their opinions, you should avoid starting conversations that involve any religious or political matters, as these topics always become heated. There are definitely other interesting things to talk about!
Feel free to investigate questions
Indians are a curious bunch. They will ask questions about your job, your income, your marriage, your family, and sometimes during your first meeting! It’s his way of breaking the ice. So, don’t be surprised or offended if someone asks you these kinds of questions right away and plays along. Oh, and don’t forget to do the same in return.
Do not drink tap water
Avoid drinking tap water in India because it contains Escherichia coli, a type of bacteria that can make you sick. It is best to have a bottle of mineral water with you at all times. Indians either boil tap water to make it drinkable or stick to bottled water (which is much cheaper). Even in restaurants, ask for mineral water instead of plain water – it’s always better not to risk it!
Don’t expect to pay for everything with a credit card
In India, cash is king. While many high-end shopping complexes, stores, restaurants and hotels accept credit cards, there are many that do not. Sometimes, even debit cards are not accepted, so cash is your savior in such situations. Also, getting to ATMs is fairly easy in cities, but less so in smaller villages and towns. Thus, ensure that you carry an adequate amount of cash at all times. Don’t carry small bills to pay for parking, tip, or buy small items.
Do not drink, smoke or use drugs in public!
Smoking and drinking in public places is prohibited throughout the country. If you want to enjoy these things, do so in your home or on licensed premises. Also, drug use, possession, and distribution will lead to conviction, so don’t get involved in any of this.
Don’t expect everyone to speak English
India is culturally and linguistically diverse. Many languages are spoken throughout the country and dialects differ from place to place. Although you can get by with English in some places, it is beneficial to learn some local words and phrases outside of urban centres. This will also help you make local friends, as they will see that you respect their culture.
Don’t even think about beef
Eating beef has always been a taboo in the country, as Hindus consider cows sacred. Cow slaughter is also illegal in many parts of India, and has led to violent protests. While foreign tourists generally stay away, it is highly recommended to check the legality before ordering a beef dish. Do you know about emirates business class? Feel the luxury when you travel to india in business class