What Are Common Indian Customs?


Quick Answer

Some of the most common traditional customs upheld in India include the traditional greeting "Namaste," taking off one's shoes inside a person's home and different norms regarding eye contact. Because Indian customs may be very different than one's own, it is important to become familiar with them when visiting India.

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Full Answer

Many foreigners visiting India feel overwhelmed by the difference in cultural norms and customs. While prolonged eye contact in the West is seen as an indication of intimacy or an invasion of privacy, in India it is not considered rude to stare at someone. With the density of the Indian population, personal space does not exist in the sense that it does in Western countries, and people may stand incredibly close.

It is considered taboo to walk into a temple with the bottom half of one's body uncovered, so wear pants when visiting any religious site. Feet are considered unclean. Visitors are expected to take off their shoes inside homes, and as a sign of respect, young Indian people prostrate themselves at the feet of their elders and kiss their feet. In general, it is a good idea to dress conservatively, especially for women, as Western-style clothes on women are sometimes seen as a sign of sexual availability.

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