8 Customs of Visiting a Home in India ...


8 Customs of Visiting a Home in India ...
8 Customs of Visiting a Home in India ...

Indian customs are ancient and fascinating. If you are taking a trip to India or if you have frequent interaction with Indian people, it is likely that you would receive an invitation to visit them at home. This custom of India is a natural part of their lives, so do not be surprised; accept the invitation and look forward to an extremely interesting and pleasant experience. To help you along, here are some Indian customs you should be aware of.

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Gifts for Your Host

Although it is not necessary or one of the essential Indian customs to take a gift when you are invited to an Indian home, if you would like to, then it would be greatly appreciated. Should you not be on familiar terms with the family, or have difficulty deciding what to get them, an item that is something from your own culture would always be welcomed.


Opting for universal gifts such as flowers, sweets, or chocolates can be a safe bet. However, if you have some insight into the host’s preferences, a more personalized token can be deeply appreciated. Generally, aim for something that reflects thoughtfulness without being excessively extravagant. A good book, a handicraft, or even a specialty food item from your region could make a charming present. Just remember to avoid bringing alcohol unless you are certain it's acceptable to the host – in many Indian households, alcohol is not commonly appreciated as a gift.


How to Dress

Within Indian social customs, exposing too much skin and wearing revealing clothes are not regarded as acceptable, particularly for a woman. Therefore, avoid making your hosts feel uncomfortable. Wear something conservative and they will be happy


When selecting an outfit, opt for long skirts, loose trousers, or traditional Indian attire such as a salwar kameez or sari. They are not only culturally respectful but also comfortable in the often warm climate. Additionally, scarves or shawls can be useful for covering up when necessary. Men should also err on the side of modesty, wearing long pants and collared shirts. Remember, choosing attire that aligns with local norms is a sign of respect and can enhance the warmth and hospitality of your reception.


Entering a Home and Footwear

Among the customs of India, feet and footwear are regarded as being unclean. As such, it is usual practice to take footwear off at the front door before entering a house. You can then enter your host’s home, barefooted.


This act is not only a sign of respect to the cleanliness of the home but also holds spiritual significance. The feet are thought to collect dust and impurities from the ground, which is why keeping them outside preserves the purity of someone's living space. Hence, it's polite to abide by this tradition without protest. Moreover, in some homes, you may find footwear neatly lined up or stored in a shoe rack at the entrance. It's a gentle reminder to follow suit and mind your step, honoring both the culture and tidiness of your host's abode.


Introduction and Traditional Greetings

Indian customs include “Namaste” or the “joining of hands,” which have different meanings. Following the first introductions, the greetings will be completed with the Namaste. Although some people regard it as an Eastern bow of respect, many others believe it is saying that “I greet you without previous inhibition or prejudice.” Many traditional families use the greeting of Namaste, and as part of your Indian experience, accept and enjoy the respect paid to you and return the greeting.


When you offer a Namaste, you are both honoring the other and humbling yourself. It's a simple gesture of goodwill that resonates deeply within the cultural fabric of India. The gesture involves pressing your palms together at the chest level and bowing slightly. This symbolic act of folding hands signifies the belief that the divine resides in each individual, thereby recognizing the equality and oneness of all beings. As a foreigner, when you reciprocate this warm custom, it reflects your open-mindedness and willingness to embrace local customs with grace.


Physical Contact

In many parts of the world today, a hug or a kiss on one or both cheeks have become traditional methods of greeting and signs of affection. However, the Indian people are a conservative nation, with hugs and kisses not accepted as common social practice. This especially applies to interaction between new acquaintances, when shaking hands is the most that would be accepted.


The traditional namaste, where palms are joined together in front of the chest with a slight bow, is a common and respectful way to greet everyone in India, regardless of gender or age differences. It's essential for visitors to note that physical touch should generally be avoided, particularly between men and women who are not related or well-acquainted. Instead, a friendly and warm verbal greeting is always appropriate and appreciated. Respect for personal space is embedded in the culture, highlighting the importance of understanding and adhering to these customs to foster positive interactions.


Alcohol and Smoking

Some of the religious customs of India mean alcohol is not served at the dinner table and generally, it is considered taboo in many homes. Therefore, do not expect that it will be served unless it is especially mentioned by your host. This also applies to smoking. A woman smoking is a rare event, so do not offer one a cigarette as it could be seen as a sign of disrespect. If you are a smoker, then always get the approval of your host before lighting a cigarette. Although the men do smoke outside the home, usually at work, they do not smoke inside the house.



It is one of the customs of India that every person washes their hands before starting and after finishing a meal. This is because it is usual practice for most families to eat with their hands. Even if cutlery is used, hands are still washed before a meal.


Showing Courtesy and Respect

It is a recognized custom in India to always get permission from your host before taking any photographs of the family. This particularly applies to women. Should you want to ask questions and learn more about Indian culture, religion or beliefs it is acceptable providing, you do not come across as being derogatory or having a condescending manner. You can pay a great and welcome compliment to the lady of the home by praising the food. Be sure to tell her what you liked most and why; ask her questions and even for a particular recipe.

There are many Indian customs and many relate to particular religions. If you are invited to an Indian home, it is definitely worth knowing if your hosts are Muslim, Hindu or Sikh, as the food culture is very different between all three of these main Indian religions. Do a little research beforehand so you won’t commit any major faux pas that would offend your hosts. What is your take on these customs?

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Where Thoughts and Opinions Converge

I am from India and I don't agree with most of this article when I go to my family and people my family know I always have to give them a hug and give them a kiss on both side of the cheek. Namaste hasn't been used in a 100 years at least I they are not your family or in laws you shake hands when you meet them.

I take my shoes off in any home and church when I am in Mumbai or Karnataka.

I am an indian, and this is exactly how my family is, i can totally relate....i have lived abroad aswell and i know the difference.

Hi I totally agree with this article. I live in Mumbai and yes, this is how we are supposed to live in the Indian society. Our culture is very rich; be it living in India or abroad, every Indian must follow all these rules. We might not adhere to these now days, only because we wanna go all fancy and western. I am an Indian and I\'m proud to be one. And yes, I do follow most of these customs.

This is an extremely biased article. Indian families in the US have quite different households versus those in India, so you should specify. It also depends on the generation of the family.

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