The Center for South Asian Religions provides resources to help you better understand your South Asian neighbors in order to develop long lasting relationships.
There are certain concepts that anyone desiring to engage in a genuine, lasting friendship with a South Asian should be aware of.
South Asians and the Home
In order to develop positive relationships with South Asians, it is important that you are willing to visit the South Asian family in their home, and that they are free to go to your home. It is common for a home visit to involve dining together, as it is customary for South Asians to offer food to anyone who comes to their house.
- When entering the home of a South Asian it is appropriate to remove your shoes at the door.
- Be aware that some Asian food can be spicy. While you may not be used to this type of food, do your best to try what you can in order not to offend the host.
- Many South Asians are strict vegetarians and will not eat any meat that is offered to them.
- Many South Asians refrain from eating beef of any kind.
Most South Asians have certain values, which can be used as positive bridges to build a friendship. Family is important to South Asians. You can ask about their family and learn about their children and parents. Don’t be afraid to share about your own family as well. Hopefully, your family is with you when you visit. For those who are single the same applies.
In South Asian culture, certain behaviours are expected n regards to gender interactions, which may be different in other cultures.
Keep the following in mind as you develop your friendship:
- Spending abnormal amounts of time with a member of the opposite gender should be avoided
- Males should not touch females in any way
- Avoid alone time between you and a member of the opposite gender
- Spend most of your time in conversation with members of the same gender without ignoring those from the opposite gender
- Modest dress is appropriate for both females and males
It is common for South Asians to enjoy spending time in relaxed conversation, discussing a wide variety of topics.
When conversing with a South Asian:
- Attempt to learn how to pronounce the name of your friend accurately
- Be willing to learn some of their language
- Feel free to ask questions about their culture in the areas of dress, food, family and lifestyle
- Listen carefully and be willing to answer their questions about your culture
- Holidays and festivals may be possible discussion topics