Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Colonized Indian Etiquette History

A salaam is a gesture of greeting or respect. It can be done with, or without, a spoken salutation, typically consisting of a low bow of the head and body, with the hand or fingers touching the forehead. – “We mostly copy European etiquette while with Europeans. Even a Bengali shakes hands with a Bengali, speaks in English for a few minutes, and then breaks forth into the vernacular. We shake hands with a European on parting, but by mistake again touch the hand to the brow in a salaam; so we both shake hands, salaam and do the like; and no sober-minded European ever cared for the anomaly.”

Of Honors, Umbrellas and Shoes...
Their Importance In the Eyes of the Indian Native
India is so vast that different etiquettes prevail in different districts. We have no standard etiquette, no standard dress. We mostly copy European etiquette while with Europeans. Even a Bengali shakes hands with a Bengali, speaks in English for a few minutes, and then breaks forth into the vernacular. We shake hands with a European on parting, but by mistake again touch the hand to the brow in a salaam; so we both shake hands, salaam and do the like; and no sober-minded European ever cared for the anomaly.

The umbrella is the emblem of royalty, the sign of a Rajah. So natives generally fold their umbrellas before a Rajah, and not before anybody else, however great, it is not a part of the dress, but a protection from the rain or sun, a necessary appendage, just like the watch and chain. You might as well ask a European to take off his water-proof coat. A coolie is not bound to fold his umbrella when a brigadier general rides past. But a menial generally closes down the umbrella on seeing his master, whom he considers his "King." But no Indian, however humble, ought to fold up the umbrella, even before a magistrate, because he is neither the master of the humble passer-by, nor his superior officer, nor is he bound to salaam him. But if he does, no harm. In a word, natives generally fold the umbrella before a master or a superior officer, and not any other citizen, however great and this is no insult.

While going to see a native chief in his palace, the native visitor or official takes off his shoes, if the reception room has a farash and the Rajah is sitting on his musnud. But if he is received in the drawing-room, furnished after the European style, the shoes are allowed. In some states, no natives can go to a Rajah without a pugree. In others, the pugree is taken off and tossed at the feet of a Rajah.—Civil and Military Gazette, 1907


Etiquette Enthusiast, Maura J. Graber, is the Site Editor for the Etiquipedia© Etiquette Encyclopedia