India Gift Giving Customs
Officially the Republic of India.
Official Language: Hindi and English
Currency: Indian rupee (INR)
Religion: Hinduism and Islam
National Holiday: Republic Day, 26 January (1950)
Gift Giving Etiquette in India
- If you are invited to a Indian's home, the Indian gift giving custom is to bring the host/hostess a small gift of chocolates or flowers.
- Do not wrap gifts in white or black colors, which are considered unlucky colors. Instead use bright colors such as green, red, yellow.
- Gifts are not usually opened in the presence of the gift giver.
- When giving money/check for any occasions, give a odd number value. For example, $101 instead of just $100. Seems to be some good luck thing.
- Hindus should not be given gifts made of leather.
- Muslims should not be given gifts made of pigskin or any alcoholic products.
- Items that people in the West may take for granted may not be available in India, so gifts such as electronic gadgets, computer disks, bandages, soup mix, and knives would be appreciated.
- Chocolate, disposable razors, perfumes, toiletries, and household items such as plastic containers can also be welcome gifts.
Social Etiquette in India
If you are planning a trip to India, you may find the following tips helpful:
- Shaking hands is common practice especially with people that are accustomed to dealing with westerners.
- It is typical for men to shake hands with other men and women may shake hands with other women, but because of religious beliefs it is rare for men and women to shake hands. If you are uncertain, wait for them to offer their hand. Most Indian women will avoid contact with men in public. When shaking hands be sure to offer the right hand, because Indian people consider the left hand "unclean". A good choice would be to use your right hand not only when touching somone, but also when giving out business cards, accepting anything or when exchanging money.
- In India, a common spoken greeting is “Namaste” or “Namaskar” it is accompanied with the pressing together of your palms at around chest level and people usually nod or bow slightly. "Namaskar" is considered a slightly more formal.
Weddings in India
Indian weddings are splendid celebrations that are immersed with rituals and traditions. If you will be a guest at the actual religious wedding ceremony and you are female, you may want to consider wearing a sari, though it is not required the family would appreciate the gesture. Female guests that choose not to wear a sari, need to dress conservatively. When choosing a outfit for the wedding there are some colors to avoid; red and black. Red is the color traditionally worn by Indian brides and black is the color worn during mourning.
When choosing a wedding gift for an Indian couple, household items are always an appreciated gift. A traditional Indian wedding gift would be gold and silver jewelry, choose something that would suit the couples style, and be sure that you know the correct sizes to purchase.
Major Gift Giving Holidays in India
- Rakhi (Usually mid-end of August) - Usually gifts are given from brothers to their sisters.
- Diwali (Usually in November) - This holiday is also known as the festival of lights.
- Christmas (Celebrated, but not widely)
Sending Gifts to India
Following are few websites where you can send gifts to your loved ones back in India:
- International Gift Customs
- How to Avoid Controversial or Inappropriate Gifts
- Etiquette for Office / Business Gift Giving
References & Resources
- Indiamarks.com First Time in India - A guide to Indian social etiquette & customs
- Helium.com - India Gift Giving Tips