Indian culture is one of the most diversified and richest cultures in the world. And gifting is its integral part component. It is mentioned as a mandatory practice of dharma in many religious texts as well. Gifting is denoted as ‘Dana’ in Sanatan dharma and generations of Indian populations have been performing it for ages.
This concept is so deeply rooted in our culture that our ceremonies and rituals are incomplete without it. Gifting is a gesture of love, care, and respect that strengthens relationships and enhances their value. It is meant to make our beloved people feel special in our true intentions sans expecting anything in return. Otherwise, the act is not considered gifting but barter.
The art of gifting is beautifully defined in Shrimad Bhagavad Gita – “A gift is pure when it is given from the heart to the right person at the right time and the right place, and when we expect nothing in return.”
It is indeed mandatory to preserve pious intentions while giving presents to someone, perhaps, that’s what makes gifts synonymous with blessings on auspicious occasions.
Humans and animals akin practice the art of gifting
Gifting is not just confined to the human race rather we have got this legacy into our DNAs from our ancestors – Chimpanzees. Chimpanzees and other species of the animal kingdom have been actively involved in gifting since their existence. They used to exchange raw food, tree barks, leaves, stones, and pollen with each other and across other species as an act of trust-building. It has also been a popular practice between male and female animals to attract each other and make stronger bonds.
Similarly, humans from ancient times to medieval times, and modern times today have been following gifting as a major part of their lives. We celebrate our special days by gifting meaningful presents. No ceremony including birthdays, weddings, anniversaries, housewarmings, baby showers, or festivals has ever been holistic without gifting.
Altering facets of gifting in different timelines
Changing times have transformed the gifting tradition time and again, maintaining their relevance. From exchanging food, royal treasures, cattle, clothes, paintings, books, wooden gifts, ornaments, and fragrances, to money and other utilitarian and luxury items, different periods have introduced a new form of gifting. However, the abundance of gift variety has never changed the intent of this practice.
In modern times, we embrace technology to create functional yet meaningful gifts that once can cherish for a lifetime.
The concept of personalization has reshaped the way we have been perceiving gifting. Customized gifts have taken gifting to a whole new level by adding a personal and thoughtful touch to materialistic things. Several customized gift shops allow customers to curate personalized gifts on-demand, designed only for their special ones. Customizing a gift with the name or photograph of the recipient makes the gift an immortal keepsake, turning every special occasion unforgettable. What is fascinating about new-age gifts is they maintain the princessless expression of endearment in all their types without losing the true essence of gifting.
A small gesture of gifting is BIG
Since gifting is all about emotions and sentiments even the smallest addition to a gift matters the most.
Case in point: The monetary gifts, traditionally known as Shagun, are always given with an extra rupee like 101 and 1001. Elderly people always prefer gifting money in an envelope to dear ones on significant occasions such as weddings. But have you ever wondered what that one-rupee coin attached to the envelopes signifies? It defines the indivisibility of infinite blessings showered on the recipient by the giver. Zero marks ending and 1 symbolizes the beginning to infinity.
There is much more to augment the value of gifting such as an adequate way of bestowing gifts. Let us explore:
Gifting etiquettes in Indian culture
To celebrate all the colors of Indian culture with dignity and respect, one should diligently keep certain concepts in mind.
- Present the gift to the recipient with your right hand
- Consider their likes and dislikes while choosing the gift
- Gifting something that the recipients themselves could not afford is highly appreciated
- Fragrances such as perfumes, oud, attar are among the ideal gifts
Hidden rules of gifting in Indian culture
- Don’t gift alcohol to your host unless you are sure about their habits
- Skip black gift wrap as it is considered unlucky. Instead, go for bright and shining colors that signify happiness and prosperity
- Most people in India are vegetarians, therefore, ensure to bring pure vegetarian food as a gift for them
- Gifting pure leather gifts made from the skin of cows and pigs is a big no-no in Indian culture
- If you are planning to gift flowers for a celebration, do not add frangipanis or any white-colored flower to the bouquet as they are used for mourning
- Get some chocolates or pastries whenever visiting a friend’s or relative’s home
- Avoid unwrapping gifts in front of the gift-giver
- Always bestow gifts to the eldest member of the family when attending a family get together
Make gifting a wholesome experience
Gifting has a very special place in Indian culture. Close-knitted families, friends, and neighbors often exchange meaningful gifts to multiply happiness. Adhere to the gifting guidelines mentioned above and enhance the gifting experience. Always remember – Gifting is an emotion, not a formality.