Jordynn RauchIndia Cultural BriefIndia, officially the Republic of India, is asovereign state in South Asia, where itcomprises the bulk of the Indian peninsula. It is the 7thlargest country in the world by land area,and the second most populous, with a population of over 1.2 billion people. Unity in diversity" -these are not just words, but something that are highly applicable to a country like India that isincredibly rich in culture and heritage. “The Indian culture varies like its vast geography. Peoplespeak in different languages, dress differently, follow different religions, eat different food butare of the same nature” (Knowindia). So, whether it is a cheerful occasion or a moment ofsorrow, people participate whole-heartedly, feeling the happiness or pain. In India a celebrationor festival is never limited to a single family, the whole community participates in the festivitiesthat brings liveliness to the celebration.Greetings in IndiaA handshake is the standard way to greet a male colleague however it is less common toshake hands with women and it is better to wait for a woman’s initiative in a handshake out ofrespect. “It is common that people slightly nod or bow their heads when shaking hands,particularly with high-ranking individuals.” (Asialink Business). The left hand is consideredunclean and as such, should never be used alone to offer or accept a handshake, drink, food,money, gifts or business cards. “The traditional Indian greeting is the “Namaste”, which you dowith hands pressed together, palms touching, and fingers pointed upwards, in front of the chestwith a slight nod or bow of the head” (Asialink Business). In the absence of a handshake, youcan do a Namaste. It is very common for people, especially those younger than you, to call you“Sir” or “Madam” out of respect.Keep in mind that religion, education, and social class allinfluence greetings in India. It is a hierarchical culture, so greet the eldest or most senior personfirst.
Jordynn RauchMany foreigners are confused by the common non-verbal signal that many Indians do ofshaking their head from side to side. “It appears to be a combination of a verbal yes and no. InIndia, this gesture is a visual way to communicate to someone that they understand what you aresaying or that they agree with you” (Asialink Business).