9 Cultural Tips You Need To Know Before Traveling To India

Written by Indrani Karmakar  • 

First of all, congratulations on your trip! And a great choice too! A trip to India can be life-changing, and tourists from all over the world can attest to that. Its beauty and diversity can awaken new sides of yourself. But, like every country, India too has a set of cultural dos and don’ts, knowing which will help you have the best time there. In this article, we have listed some tips to help you blend into the culture, so you can enjoy the country without feeling out of place. Read on to know them all!

1. Don’t Touch Books Or Any Instrument With Your Feet

Don’t Touch Books Or Any Instrument With Your Feet
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In India, young children are instilled with the value of education and the importance of reading. Saraswati, the hindu Deity of knowledge, is believed to reside in books and instruments. So it’s considered unacceptable to put one’s feet on a book or even kick a backpack full of textbooks and binders. Any tool used to increase one’s understanding is likewise revered highly and should not be stepped on. According to Indian tradition, even writing instruments like pens and pencils deserve reverence.

2. Try Out Local Cuisine

Try Out Local Cuisine
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When traveling to a new country, it’s vital to try the local food, and often, the finest meal you’ll have is from a street food seller. Indian cuisine is one of the world’s most opulent styles of cooking. It’s undeniably a must-try. Just be careful with the very spicy dishes! You should also use caution while trying any street food. Keep an eye out for clean (and busy) sellers and be wary of drinking water or ice that wasn’t filtered thoroughly (certainly try to steer clear of tap water).

3. Try To Use Your Right Hand While Giving Someone Something

Try To Use Your Right Hand While Giving Someone Something
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This custom has spread to many other civilizations. The right-hand holds a special significance in many religions and civilizations. The left hand is considered unclean in India since it is traditionally used for washing feet and cleaning shoes. It is proper etiquette to use your right hand while serving others or passing items to them.

4. Don’t Point Your Finger At Anything

Don't Point Your Finger At Anything
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The pointer finger is the one most of us use when giving instructions or making a specific reference, such as at a restaurant. However, this is most certainly not the best practice in India. It’s impolite and disrespectful to point at anything or someone. The entire palm or the tip of your thumb should be used to indicate direction or emphasis. This is the more diplomatic and considerate approach while you are there.

5. Some Towns Prefer Cash Only

Some Towns Prefer Cash Only
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Small towns in India are more likely to only accept cash payments. Credit, debit card, and UPI acceptance are more common in larger cities’ malls, restaurants, and stores, but still somewhat uncommon in smaller cities, where people often pay with cash. Even though India is progressing towards going cashless, it has not touched every city and village yet. Having some cash on hand is a good idea, just in case.

6. Not Everyone Speaks English

Not Everyone Speaks English
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English may be spoken at larger establishments such as hotels, restaurants, and certain stores; however, this is unlikely in more remote areas. It may be beneficial to spend time with people from other cultures and learn their language. Learning a new tongue is a great way to familiarize yourself with a different culture.

7. Learn How To Greet Traditionally

Learn How To Greet Traditionally
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Everyone deserves to be treated with respect, so learning the customs and greetings of a nation is one way to express your appreciation for its people. A common example of such a greeting is “namaste.” Put your hands together and bend low as you pronounce namaste, or for a more formal occasion, “namaskar.”

8. Refrain From PDA

Refrain From PDA
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Since love is so personal, showing it off in public in India is usually frowned upon. Avoid making obvious displays of affection in public, such as holding hands or kissing on the cheek. Even if you are on your honeymoon here, people will appreciate it if you did not show overt displays of affection in public spaces.

9. You Need To Dress Appropriately

You Need To Dress Appropriately
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One of the many crucial considerations for a successful trip to India is how you will portray yourself. Being respectful of the culture and people begins with how you dress. In this manner, you may show your admiration for the nation while also giving the impression that you belong there. When visiting a religious or historical site, it is customary to cover one’s head with a scarf out of respect.

So, now that you know the things you should learn about to make your trip even more memorable, nothing can stop you from having a blast there. Do you have any experience visiting India? What excites you most about Indian culture? Let us know in the comments section!

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