Why do you often see a Indian women with a red dot on her forehead?
The red dot is a symbol of her marriage. A North Indian woman wears a red streak on the parting of her hair. An unmarried woman sometimes wears a black dot on her forehead. This black colour is used to counteract the effect of the evil eye. If a lovely young girl gets too many compliments, Indians feel that some kind of harm may come to her, so this dot repels evil influences. Modern young misses match the dots on their foreheads with the colour of their saris today. This is not traditional but only a fashionable act.
How do Indians greet one another?
The traditional greeting of Indians is made with palms together in the prayer position, hands raised to the front of the face and the head bowed slightly. They say "Vanakkam", which is the same as the Western greeting of "How are you?" However, in Singapore today, many young people do not use this greeting among peers; they normally use it only when they are greeting their elders.
Is it true books have special meaning to the Indians?
In a way, yes. Books are almost sacred to Indians. They would never sit on a book or throw it about, or generally handle it in a disrepectful manner. This feeling for books probably began years ago when holy books were the only printed works in existence. Also, books are visible symbols of knowledge and learning- priceless possessions in the East where Chinese and Malays also have this reverence for books.
What are the daily dressing of the Indians?
Indian men wear Western dress in the business office although at home,they prefer to wear traditional Indian dress. Young girls and women will be wearing a sari or a Punjabi suit (a long overblouse and trousers) made of silk or cotton. Though the Punjabi suit is traditionally worn by North Indians. it is seen more comfortable and convenient than the sari and worn more and more by women of all ethnic groups. However, more and more Indian women are also switching over to Western clothings of jeans and tee-shirts.
How do Indian men and women behave in their social context?
Indians usually maintain a social distance with members of the opposite sex (about an arm's length away). If you observe a step backward when you stand too close to Indians friends, it probably does not mean that you have bad breath, it may mean that you have invaded their personal space. Do not touch shopkeepers onn the arms, or waiters or waitressesto catch their attention least you unwittingly signal an amorous advance. Public decorum must be shown even between husband and wife. Do not kiss, hug or hold hands when attending an Indian social gathering.
What should you observed when visiting an Indian home?
Try to be punctual. Indians are usually punctual for invitations and appointments. Also, remove shoes in the house or if there is a prayer room in the house. In many traditional Indian homes there is an area set aside for prayer, a pooja (prayer) room. Statues or pictures of Hindu deities are found there. Shoes must never be worn in a house thast has a pooja. Indians believe that shoes must be remove for prayer. Always dress modestly while a guest in an Indian home. Unless offered a tour of the house, guests should not wander about. Unlike Westerners who love to take guests on a general tour of the entire house, Indians usually do not do this.
What are the food and drink habits and customs of Indians?
Most Indians do not eat beef as the animal is venerated in their religion. The cow is considered to be a sacred animal because people consume its milk; analogous to a human mother who gives milk. In many Hindu homes, meat is not cooked or eaten on Friday. Indians are very fond of yogurt. Yogurt is served and consumed in many different forms, but one of the favourite form is lassi. It is a cooling drink made by blending some plain yogurt with a little water and crushed ice. Salt is added (by South Indians) or sugar is added (by North Indians). It is thought to aid in digestion. Indians generally enjoy very sweet and rich desserts made from evaporated and sweentened condensed milk. They also like fried food and fod fried in ghee (clarified butter). One interesting point about Indian food is that they are always rich in colour: red (chilli), brown (curries), and yellow enhances the appearance of their food. Pungent aromas are the most enticing part of the meal. The rich colours and spicy fragrance of Indian dishes help to whet a great appetite!
Which part of an Indian child should you not touch?
Do not pat a Hindu child on the head. Most Indians, even the grown-ups, do not like to be touched on the head. They believe that the head is the most sensitive part of the body and that no chance should be taken to hurt it. You can pat a child on the cheek or gently pinch the child's cheek without causing offence. Indians often use this gesture with children as a sign of affection.
What are the food Indians do not enjoy or cannot 'enjoy'?
Indians tend not to enjoy European type cheese, clams and other shellfish, and they particulary do not enjoy boring, colourless, and lifeless boiled, steamed or otherwise bland food. Indian women tend not to drink alcohol and wine is not part of an Indian meal. Some Indians seem to enjoy beer, but most Indians drink lassi, coffee, tea or water.
** Take not that Indian Muslims follow the Islamic rules of social and conduct. Please refer to the section on Malay.