Ethnicity Studies: Hindi Culture and Issues in the US Essay

September 21, 2021 by Essay Writer


I conducted a cultural interview on a 40 year old Indian lady. She had migrated to the US two years ago because of better opportunities in her career as a nurse here. She had studied nursing for her undergraduate studies. Her primary language was Hindi but she had learnt English to make it possible to work outside her country. She said that her country was very diverse in languages. The interview was meant to help me understand the Indian culture. I asked her questions on communication, family roles and organization, workforce issues, bio cultural ecology, nutrition, pregnancy and child bearing practices to help me learn more about the Hindi culture.


Indians names usually include first name followed by surname. It is appropriate to address a person using his/her surname. Majority of them have a family name (Michigan, 2011). Indians greet each other by a shake of hands. It is a sign of respect to bow your head while greeting an older person. Men only shake hands with men and not with women (Diplomat, 2011).

Indians’ tone of communication depends on the context, whether it is business or official talk and often prefer to have short talks which are not necessarily related to the main topic before the main conversation. Indians are very detailed in their communication. They ask questions in a conversation and they tend to give more information when asked a question even in areas where little is required. They also maintain little eye contact in their communication and personal space of about 3-3.5 feet (Culture, n.d.). However, looking at a man for a long time by a woman is not entertained (Culture, n.d.).

One of the surprising things in their non verbal communication is the meaning of nodding their heads. Some of the people move their heads side by side to mean yes while to some it means no. On the other hand, moving head up and down, to some people means no while to some it means yes. The third movement of the head is a semicircular motion, which means yes (Giri, 2011). India has a Long Term Orientation (LTO) of 61, meaning that it is very conservative and it upholds its culture which has been conserved through many generations (Hofstede, 2009).

Family Roles and Organization

Indians value family and hierarchies are highly respected. Older people are senior and are more respected. They also make the final decisions. Nuclear families form extended families which sometimes can stay together in one house including uncles, aunts, grandfathers, cousins and their children. Families are united which form caste. Men are the heads of the house hold. Women are supposed to submit to their husbands and to play the role of a mother, house wife and caregiver.

In rural areas most women work in the farms and cottage industries. Indians men or women can move to reside into one of the partner’s place according to the traditions of the family (Culture, n.d.). Some behaviors such as “touching people, moving objects with shoes, winking, whistling, pulling or boxing one’s ear, accepting things with left hand” (Culture, n.d., p. 1) are taboos in Indian culture.

Workforce Issues

In India, people are supposed to live in harmony and should never entertain conflict. When they need to make decisions, there are consultations of the senior people which help in building harmony amongst them. This is a challenge because they are not supposed to say no in any case. Instead, they say “maybe” or “it may be difficult” (Background, n.d.). Indians also take responsibility in their work and people are not guided by strict rules and regulations at the work place. An Indian may thus find it difficult to work in a place where there are strict rules and regulations and may need to adjust himself/herself to places of work where people are strictly followed on what to do. India has Uncertainty Avoidance Index of 40 which is very low compared to the world average which is 65 (Hofstede, 2009).

India is a male dominated society where women hardly get high positions. Women are sometimes are not included in making decisions (Diplomat, 2011). Indians are strict in following religious practices. The unique thing in their religion is that they worship trees and cows (Maps, 2009). Sometimes a person might think that they are accepting or refuting a point, because of what the shaking of the head means to them.

Bio Cultural Ecology

Indians’ color of skin “varies from light marble cream to deep chocolate depending on distance from equator; the skin gets darker as we move from north to south India” (Indiacurry, n.d., p. 1). Darker skin usually lowers the ability of the skin to get enough sunlight for vitamin D, which reduces the ability of the body to absorb calcium. Those people who live close to the equator are vulnerable to “problems of the elderly, cataract, and age induced muscular degeneration” (Indiacurry, n.d., p. 1).

These people should thus take food which contains Letein and Lycopene. Congenital malformations and genetic disorders are known to cause a significant high number of deaths in India. Infants die because marriages are between closely related relatives, many children are born per year and there is no enough genetic counseling to the Indians (WHO, 2011).


Many Indians are vegetarians who do not take any meat but take milk products. This can bring a deficiency in some nutrients such as lack of essential amino acids which they compensate by taking diets which are rich in proteins such as legumes and whole grains. Indians also offer first meals of the day to the cows and last meals in the evening are offered to the dogs (Maps, 2009).

Indians eat according to Ayurveda. When eating, there is a need to observe silence. The food has to be cooked or for some other food for instance milk warmed to aid in digestion. It is strongly believed that great digestion enhances the formation of Ojas: “Ojas is the outcome from food once it had been perfectly digested” (Indian Foods, 2011, p. 1). In order to create a great Oja the following need to be observed, “Steady the mind and the body before you begin to eat; wash hands and feet before the meal; begin your meal with a blessing; and do not eat when you are upset” (Indian Foods, 2011, p. 1).

Pregnancy and Childbearing Practices

Indians have a unique way by which they address issues of pregnancy which are different from healthcare systems in the US. Pregnant women in India are supposed to take cold foods in early months of pregnancy because they believe that hot foods are harmful at this stage and could lead to a miscarriage. In late months of pregnancy, a woman can take hot food so as to enhance labor. From their culture they are supposed to eat less food during pregnancy to prevent the fetus from becoming overweight.

They also use herbs which are known to increase chances of giving birth to a boy child. Issues related to pregnancy cannot be handled by men and men should not be involved. Qualified midwives are supposed to assist women during delivery at home. After birth, the mother and the child are supposed to be confined because they are said to be impure. This separation can last up to 40 days. They also perform rituals which are meant to protect the child from the evil one (Choudhry, 1997).

Women after delivery are encouraged to take a lot of garlic so as to dry the womb. Women are also supposed to take hot showers. Infants are taken care of by their mothers and they are massaged daily by their mothers with oil. Mothers only breastfeed the infant, only after colostrums has been fully formed (Background, n.d.).


Understanding other cultures is important if one is to provide good services to all people in nursing. It is important to understand pregnancy and child bearing practices of Indians so as to understand why they may become reluctant to accept hospital delivery where male nurses are working. Nurses should also be able to understand non verbal language of different cultures and know that Indians hardly say no and thus can get out of the hospital when they are not satisfied.


Background. (n.d.). Indian Ethnicity and Backgroung. Web.

Choudhry, A. (1997). Traditional Practices of Women from India: pregnancy, childbirth, and newborn care. Web.

Culture. (n.d.). India. Web.

Diplomat. (2011). India. Web.

Giri, N. (2011). Communication in India. Web.

Hofstede, G. (2009). Cultural Dimensions. Web.

Indiacurry. (n. d). Nutrition and India. Web.

Indian Foods. (2011). Indian Table (Yoga) Etiquette. Indian Foods. Web.

Maps. (2009). India Culture. Web.

Michigan. (2011). India: Culture. Web.

WHO. (2011). Case Study: India. Web.

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