You are planning your trip to India and cannot wait to immerse yourself in the culture of this fascinating country. Here are some cultural rules to consider before leaving, so as not to run into bad surprises.
Before leaving to India, there are some cultural rules to know to be able to enjoy the beauties and traditions of this country with habits so different from our but equally fascinating.
First of all the language : In India we speak Hindi, which is declined in over a thousand different dialects, but the other official language is English , therefore, despite the different pronunciation of some terms, and that could create some small problem of interpretation, communicating is not a big deal. In India, you will see various languages in each city but the common is Hindi and English. The language of Southern Region and North Region of India are very different. Among the ambiguous words, one to watch out for is hotel, which almost always indicates restaurants and not places to stay.
In restaurants they serve almost exclusively vegetarian dishes, except for someone who proposes chicken or goat meat. Because of the poor hygiene conditions with which it is stored, it is advisable to avoid eating meat. The Indian food is poor and not very healthy: it is used to fry foods in plenty of mustard oil and you do a lot of sugar. And at the table you have to observe some rules: never eat with your left hand, which is used only for personal hygiene; never eat dishes or dishes of others.
It is also difficult to find restaurants that sell alcohol because it is much taxed. However, in some guesthouses frequented by foreign tourists, it is possible to buy under-the-counter beer.
If you are invited to a birthday, do not be afraid if, at some point, the cake is cut with your hands and the guests are fed one by one, always with their hands.
When you present yourself, you must be careful, if you are a man, not to shake a woman’s hand and not have any physical contact with her. To introduce you, simply join hands and say “Namaste”.
We need to know that India is still a very sexist country and, precisely for this reason, foreign women are not well seen. To avoid having problems, dress appropriately, with the shoulders and legs covered, prefer loose clothing to not highlight the shape of the body. If you intend to wear the local dress, the saree , it is preferable to avoid, because it could be offensive. It will be difficult to meet women who smoke or drink, also because women who have these habits are considered prostitutes. Do not forget that in India there are still arranged marriages.
Married women wear a red line from the forehead to the entire hairline. The red dot on the forehead, which once symbolized the third eye, today is only a decoration.
Even men are very attentive o the care of their body , walking is easy to come across Men Beauty Parlor, beauty salons where they go to dye their hair, shave, do facial cleansing or massage.
Before booking a trip to India, it is important to know that in this country homosexuality is considered a crime and is punished by law, but two men can hold hands while walking conversing. India is a homophobe country and all sexuality is still a taboo subject. On trains it is possible to meet the Hijra, transsexuals who are thought to give fertility to men. These characters, which pass between the carriages clapping their hands, are well seen, precisely because they are symbols of prosperity. It is customary to give them offers, in order to benefit from their positive influence.
In the streets it is not rare to meet people asking for alms: in India they are begging, from children to adults. Furthermore, everything is negotiable.
Among the many symbols present in the country there is the swastika, which, unlike that adopted by Hitler as a symbol of Nazism, here is rotated 45 degrees and is a sign of good luck.
It happens to find around many men with beards and long hair with a weapon hanging from their belts – usually a knife: they are the Sikhs, who live in the state of Punjab, the richest in India. Followers of this religion can never cut their hair and beards.
In addition to the Sikhs, it is also possible to meet the Sadhus, men dressed in orange with their painted faces. Their life is entirely devoted to meditation and the renunciation of material goods. But we must be careful: many Sadhus are fake and ask for money from tourists, but the real Sadhus willingly accept offers but never ask for money.
Always on the subject of money, care must be taken not to bring Indian rupees out of India, since it is considered illegal.
These are some cultural rules to know before embarking on a trip to India which, we recall, is one of the most fascinating countries in the world.