Updated: May 3
Why Love Everyone
One of the first things we learn in an Indian home is this prayer:
“Matru devo bhuv (Mother is a form of God) Pitru devo bhuv (father is a form of God) Acharya devo bhuv (Teacher is a form of God) Atithi devo bhuv (Guests are a form of God)”
According to this, God comes to us in four forms: Shloka, mother, father, teacher and a guest. I love having guests over when I am connecting with them, cherishing old memories or creating new ones. However, when I am repeatedly told on how to treat them it takes away from the joy of spending some quality time with them.
How We Welcome Guests—EAT!
In most Gujarati homes, we are taught to bring out the water to our guests and, once seated, offer them Cha – Nasto ( Tea & snacks). This is fine as it is the polite thing to do, however doing “aagrah,” insisting that they must eat is not in my nature. I get it this is the older generations’ way of showing love and appreciating that they took the time to come out to visit, but I personally don’t like forcing things. If the guests show up during lunch or dinner time, insist they stay for the meal.
Our Hospitality Traditions Examined
However, here is where I am looking at our hospitality traditions all wrong. We are not really forcing anything, we insist because most guests have become accustomed to this idea of politely saying “no,” even if they would like some tea. Some use this insisting as an ice breaker for those awkward moments where we have nothing to talk about. Most times they are our distant relatives or our parents’ friends and we personally don’t have connections but our culture treats all distant relatives as part of our big family and community.
This tradition of ours to treat our Mehmans (guests) like Gods is an unique one. It teaches us to treat everyone with respect and reverence and tells us to go with the flow of life. Oh and don’t forget you got to come outside as a whole family to wave good bye to them. You may think they don’t even know you that well, do they even care? Reality is that small gesture makes anyone feel appreciated and loved that you come out to say “aavjo(come back again soon)”
All in all, when you have those unexpected guests next time, don’t feel like they are disturbing your schedule or you have to go out of your way to be a perfect hostess. Simply show them you are glad they choose you to visit. Share the bounty you have been blessed with even if it’s a glass of milk and cookies. In reality they came to see you because they care! In turn show them you care as well.