Indian Greeting Customs and Traditions

Who can I give a handshake to?

India men are quite westernized and they will often reach out to shake your hand. The only thing you should remember is that a handshake tends to be with the same sex. An Indian man will shake hands with another man; however, he will not do so with a woman. So, if you are a foreigner woman, you should avoid initiating a handshake with a man.

Usually, Indian woman do not gives a handshake. If an individual does not speak English, she tend to be quite shy when talking to a foreigner (even if the foreigner also a female). There is an exception. Woman may give a handshake to a child. And, if the child do something good, the the Indian woman will hug or put her hand on the child head as memento of acknowledgement.

This also raises another point for men. You should avoid making physical contact with a woman in both formal and informal situations. It is best to keep your hands to yourself. Meaning that you not should offer a handshake to a woman, just use "Namaste" and you'll be fine.

Between a man and a man, an Indian friend may want to embrace the friendship between you and him. He may give you a pat on the back and even a slap as well. Be careful and do not mistake this with a fight to the death; there is no fight club in India. Well, not any that I know of (hehe).

Male to male friendship has an progressive stage. Normal friends are treated like normal people However, if an individual is a close friend or a childhood friend, which can referred as "Langoti ya yaar (Diaper Friend i.e friends from childhood)," then he will be treated as brothers and hence can hug each other in public.

Before traveling to India, you should stock up on business cards because like in China, Indian people like to exchange business cards when they first meet. This customs is for any event and not just in a business setting.

A side note about behavior in the temple or during formal occasions. If you are a guest of honor to an event, when you first arrive people like to place a garland of flowers around your neck. After wearing it for a few minutes, there are two things you can do -- either give it to somebody else or hold it on your arm. Never and I repeat never leave the garland behind, because this is considered a sign of disrespect.

So, what do you think about this article? Good, bad or ugly? If you would like to leave any comment, feel free to do so. Thank you for joining me today. From where I am and wherever you are, have a good night and good luck everybody.

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Raphita Tobing