top of page
  • Writer's pictureTo-Go

Customs & Traditions in India

Updated: May 5, 2021

Home> Countries> Asia> India> Customs & Traditions

General Etiquette

  • Public displays of affection are not encouraged.

  • Do not show anger.

  • Winking and whistling should be avoided.

  • Ears are considered sacred so do not touch or pull on others' ears.

  • Refrain from standing within an arm’s length of others.

  • The top of the head is considered to be the most important part of the human body. To touch someone on the top of their head is considered rude and insensitive. This is especially the case with babies, children, the elderly, religious leaders, or statues of deities.

  • Feet are considered unclean (this also applies to the left hand) so avoid touching another’s foot (apologize immediately if this is accidental)

  • To show the utmost respect towards a religious leader, a statue of a goddess, or an elder, one will touch the feet of the person or the statue.

  • Never sit higher than an elder. If they are seated on the floor, you should also sit on the floor to avoid being higher than them.

  • Objects are generally passed with one’s right hand or both hands. The left hand is thought to be reserved for cleaning, and the left hand alone should never be used to pass an object.

  • Indians typically have a relaxed approach to timekeeping and punctuality. It is common for people to arrive at events 30 minutes to an hour after the designated time. However, Indians will usually observe punctuality in a formal context such as important business meetings, appointments, or when visiting a doctor.

  • You may find some questions Indians ask to be quite forward or frank by others' expectations (e.g. ‘How much do you earn?’). However, these kinds of questions are commonplace in India.

  • India has the world’s largest democracy, which is an impressive feat. Indians are often proud that their population of over a billion people have the freedom to participate in electing their government.


  • Family values are highly respected and are fundamental in daily life

  • The structure of the family is patriarchal; a woman must obey her father, her husband, her son.

  • Arranged marriages are familiar.

  • The urban middle-class population of India has begun to move away from arranged marriages

  • Families often live with three or four generations in the same house.

  • Traditionally sons inherit and daughters receive a dowry