If you are invited for dinner at a home, it is advisable to arrive 15 to 30 minutes late.
In many Indian homes, one is expected to remove his or her shoes before entering. Observing this custom is particularly important if you or your family have received a personal invitation or if the function you are attending is a familial one.
In many Indian homes, women remain mostly in the confines of the kitchen. They see their contribution in making the guest feel at home in terms of the food they cook [or supervise to get cooked]. Appreciating and praising the food are considered proper etiquette, since it is a compliment to the lady of the house.
Saying ‘thank you’ at the end of the meal is considered as an inappropriate and impersonal gesture. Instead, offer to reciprocate by inviting your hosts out to dinner. This invitation will be seen as that you value the relationship you have established with your hosts.
If you are hosting a social event, it is desirable to contact every person by phone personally, even if you have already sent a printed invitation. Indians do not normally ‘R.S.V.P.’ Invitations should be sent out early, and phone calls should be made close to the day of the party.
Be prepared for the fact that your guests will be late, since arriving punctually for a social invitation is considered bad manners. Also, some of your guests may not turn up at all, even after promising that they will.
Do not be surprised if some of your Indian guests bring their own guests. Such behaviour is considered as a sign of their close informal relationship with the host, and not bad manners. In such situations, the host is expected to remain warm, gracious and accommodating.
Since it’s difficult to predict when the guests will arrive, or how many will attend, it is sensible to make arrangements for a buffet rather than a formal ‘sit-down’ meal.
A variety of catering services are available if you don’t want to cook. Some restaurants and hotels also cater, or you can host parties on their grounds.
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