India Gift Etiquette
  • Make sure you give gift with either the both handsor either with right hand and not only with the left hand as left hand is considered unclean in Indian culture. The aversion to the left hand is deeply rooted.
  • The gifts should not be wrapped in black and white which are considered unlucky colours, it is better to use bright colours such as red, green or yellow.
  • When giving money as a gift, it should always be in odd numbers since odd numbers are considered lucky in India, especially number 1. Number 1 signifies a new beginning, whereas a round number appears to signify an end.
  • Gifts should not be opened in the presence of the giver; it is considered rude and disrespectful.
  • Giving a married woman colourful clothes and jewelry, which signifies marriage, is considered auspicious but to a widow the same gift is considered bad.
  • Inappropriate gifts include knives, letter openers, scissors, or other sharp objects. Some gifts will be inappropriate depending on one’s religious affiliation. Hindus should not be given gifts made of leather as it can be seen as insulting. Cows are sacred animals for Hindus. Avoid giving gifts relating to pigs (pork or pigskin to someone who is Muslim as well as alcohol.
  • When selecting flowers as a gift, avoid frangipanis or white flowers as they are used for funerals or mourning.
  • Giving a Taj Mahal as a souvenir is an absolute no as it is considered bad omen by Hindus, since it is a mausoleum.
  • Never give a white sari to a woman as it is only worn by widows
  • If you are invited to an Indian home, you should bring a small gift of chocolates or flowers.

Gift giving is present in the animal kingdom as well

Gift-giving was also present in the animal kingdom: in our nearest relatives, the chimpanzees, males have been observed giving gifts of food to females in exchange for potential mating.

Gift-giving has been a special part of all cultures and societies. While it has been common to all civilizations, gift-giving etiquette varies from culture to culture.

Before giving a gift to anyone, make sure you understand the traditions and norms of the receiver so that you do not offend or embarrass them.

India Gift Etiquette
Copyright: Julia Wimmerlin
India Gift Etiquette
Copyright: Julia Wimmerlin

Photography Credits

Julia Wimmerlin

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