Do Hindus eat beef, drink milk or use leather?
All Indians do not worship cows. Only Hindus revere the bovine in the way described above. While respecting the cow and bull are done by Hindus, not all Hindus are vegetarians. While vegetarianism is observed on most holidays (such as Pongal) and during most family functions (like weddings) by Hindus, many more Hindus are non-vegetarian meat eaters than foreigners may believe. While most vegetarians do not eat cow or bull meat, in select parts of India, some do eat buffalo, such as in Kerala, where beef fry is quite common. Many foreigners, especially Westerners may be surprised to hear that, but may also be surprised to know that even those Indian vegetarians that do not eat bovine, most likely will drink milk and eat milk products like butter, yogurt or cheese (Indian cheese is called paneer. Additionally, many Hindus may use leather products like leather belts, purses and wallets. If you are unsure, don't hesitate to ask your Indian client if leather products are acceptable. And, while most Indian Hindus are vegetarians, most will not mind others eating non-vegetarian during business meals. Again, if in doubt, don't hesitate to ask.
Read about Pongal Celebrations, Day 1 - Bhogi
Read about Pongal Celebrations, Day 2 - Thai Pongal
Upcoming: Fourth and final day: Kaanum Pongal
Jennifer Kumar, author of this blog, is the Managing Director of Authentic Journeys. Authentic Journeys provides cross-cultural business coaching to Indians and Americans to promote improved cross-cultural business exchanges. Contact Jennifer here.