So far from the tricolors but still a typical desi at heart. Happy 72nd Independence Day India!
As they say, old habits die hard! Wherever you go, your upbringing and culture have a tremendous influence on you. Born and bred in India, the culture, rituals, & few myths are strongly imbibed in me. Some I want to pass on to my next generation, some I am still working to get rid of it and some that warm my heart and makes me giggle.
Here are some of the typical Desi or Indian customs that I could think of at the moment since it’s an impromptu post-
15 Desi or Indian Customs of Mine
1. Eating with hands– I love the traditional way of consuming meals- eating with hands from a banana or dried leaf while sitting crossed-legged on the ground.
2. Conscious about where the sole of my feet or shoe face– when I was in grad school, I used to notice students putting their feet on the desk with sole facing towards the professor. That was my first culture shock. In Indian culture, we believe God resides in all beings so facing feet towards someone or something that is treated as God is considered disrespectful. Whenever I step on paper, book, person or food, I automatically bend down and touch the object and then touch my heart and top of my head as a sorry to God.
So a big NO to those vogue’ish pictures of placing footwear on a book.
3. Doing Pooja of every big thing I buy before using them and checking for auspicious times before starting anything new– When my best friend bought a car, the first thing we did was drive to a temple and perform puja to keep it away from bad influence. Indians often perform pujas for items used in daily life: house, automobile, and sometimes home appliances.
It’s a myth or superstition or whatever people may call it. I believe that an action initiated during an auspicious time-window will bring positive results. The auspicious days or that (positive time) is sometimes calculated based on your nakshatra and your lunar sign.
4. Rushing to everything– I am not proud of this. No matter how much planning I do, I end up rushing to airports, movies, to meet deadlines, and to the office every morning. However, to my defense, I do work well in short deadlines and packed schedules.
5. Sitting cross-legged everywhere (in Sukhasana)- Whether I am in the office, movie theater, restaurant, or lazing around on my couch. I always end up sitting cross-legged, it’s my comfort zone. I feel like I concentrate better when I sit cross-legged.
6. Wherever I go my pressure cooker follows- I know we have instapots, slow cookers, electric cookers now but my hands nevertheless go for a pressure cooker 😀
7. Namaste is more than a hello- No matter whether I like the person or not, whenever I meet an elder or talk to them on phone, my first instinct is to do/say Namaste or touch their feet. Namaste is a sign of respect/ bowing down to God residing in others.
8. Mehmaan Baghwan hota hai (Guest is god)- Even though if it’s my best friend or a family member I know visiting me. I clean every speck of the house, cook or order something they like, share everything with them-my room, bed, clothes, things if it’s needed and ensure their stay is pleasant. Hospitality is huge in Indian culture, it has been inculcated in us since we were children to treat guests as God.
Last week my best friend Lakki visited me, the night she was coming, as soon as I went home from work in the evening I started sweeping the entire house, washed all dirty dishes, folded a pile of clean laundry that was sitting for weeks and cooked dinner for her. I know that she would care less but I wanted her to feel at home.
9. Can you make it extra spicy, 100 star if possible? I am from south India, the place where you get the hottest red peppers /chilies. People look at me in awe because I eat more spice than actual food.
10. The best kind of vacation- Every summer holiday, my parents used to take me and my brother to visit a sacred place, it became a family tradition for us. I am not a God-fearing person but I love cultures and pilgrimages. Even though they are crazily crowded and the lines are long, I find myself at peace as soon as I enter a temple. I also love knowing the history behind every temple I visit and look at the scriptures on the temple walls.
11. Texting over leaving a voicemail – You can’t teach an old dog new tricks, I am not used to leaving voicemails growing up so even today I hang up and text or email the person I am trying to reach instead of leaving them a voicemail.
12. No! let me pay it- I still laugh at the tricks my dad used to follow to pay the big bill during dinner/outings with friends and relatives. He used to sneak out in between for a bathroom break and used to pay the bill or he used to either ask my brother or me to take the cheque as soon the waiter brings it out. I am glad I still share that warm gesture among my friends and cousins.
13. Because Money is not grown in the trees- The popular saying in every Indian household when you are not using something to its maximum potential like squeezing the last drop of toothpaste by cutting it in the middle, pouring water into shampoo or detergent or body wash and using it until its last drip before throwing it away.
And try to mend things by putting tapes and using them to the max before replacing it. You won’t believe, I even took stuff to India to get it repaired 😀
14. Washing my hair on all special occasions- Whether it’s my birthday, or festival or an occasion in my house or just visiting the temple. I always wash my hair. It’s not just because I want to look good, but it’s a mentality of cleaning off the sin / bad influence before a big day or a way to welcome new beginnings with a fresh mind.
15. Its all Karma- The Karma bondage is strong in me. What you do is what you get. Every action has an equal and opposite consequence.
Coming to today’s outfit- I try to incorporate summer western trends like linen, hoop earrings, and straw bag into this ethnic outfit while keeping the whole look simple and traditional.
Shop This Indian Customs Post
J.Jill Linen tunic | similar Patiala pant | Bandhini Dupatta (more options 1,2,3) | flats c/o Mochi | Hoop Earrings | Jute bag (last seen here; more options 1,2,3,4,5) | Sunglasses | Necklace c/o Super jewelry