Atithi Devo Bhava Incredible India
Atithi Devo Bhavah is a Sanskrit verse which simply means – consider the guest as god. This value-laden statement is drawn from an ancient scripture Hindu religion which has always been the ethos of Indian culture. Recently, this value laden verse has found its place in the tagline of Ministry of Tourism to improve the treatment of the foreign tourists coming in the country due to the popularity India has gained in the recent times as a favorite tourist destination.
The reasons for India becoming one of the most sought destinations are not based on some myth or chances. It is chiefly because of the range of choices available to the visiting tourists in the country in terms of places, geographical locations, rich historical art and artifacts, culture and cuisines that attract more and more tourists in India. There are beautiful snow-capped mountains, deep valleys, flanking coastlines and beaches, doons and lakes, forts and monuments, forests and wildlife sanctuaries and many other places of high interests in the country. On the top of it, the chanting of mantras, the ancient practices of Yoga and spiritualism in the air raises the level of curiosity among the tourists to visit the spiritual land.
Guest is God
“Atithi Devo Bhava” is part of the verse mentioned in the Taittiriya Upanishad, Shikshavalli I.20 that reads in full as: matrudevo bhava; pitrudevo bhava; acharyadevo bhava; atithidevo bhava. The literal translation of the verse would bring out the sense that an ideal person should strive to "become a person who considers the Mother as God, the Father as God, the Teacher as God and the guest as God."
“Tithi” in Sanskrit or even in Hindi language means a (calendrical) date. “A-tithi” means who does not have any date. In olden times, there were no fast modes of communication as compared to today and thus if anyone wants to visit or meet his near and dear ones, there were no ways he could communicate his arrival. So he used to pay visit without any information and therefore in course of time guest used to be called “athithi” one who does not have any fixed time of arrival. “Devo” in Sanskrit means God-like and “bhava” means to assume/understand. Atithi Devo Bhava means to assume or understand a guest as God-like and so pay respect and homage in the similar way one would give to his God.
Ritual or Puja
Once a guest is assumed to be God-like, then comes the process he should be treated. As the God is treated with reverence and respect and there are proper ways to show that respect, those ways are called rituals. Similarly, the guest should also be shown the respect through the same rituals. In Hinduism, these rituals comprise of five-steps which is known as Panchopchara Puja. These five rituals from the worship similarly become the five “code of conduct” to be followed while receiving guests which are as follows:
- Fragrance/Incence (Dhupa) - The rooms must have a pleasant fragrance while welcoming any guest because a good fragrance will make guest in good mood.
- Earthen Lamp (Dipa) – Lighted earthen lamp looks beautiful, fire is considered pious and also a source of light which disperses light so that everything between guest and the host is clearly visible.
- Eatables (Naivedya) - Fruits and milk-made sweets were given to guests for refreshments.
- Rice (Akshata) – Tilak is considered not only a symbol of warm wishes but also an expectation of well-being of the person on whom it is applied. Made from vermilion paste, tilak is put on the forehead and rice grains are placed on tilak. This is the most respectable form of welcome in Indian Hindu families.
- Flower Offering (Pushpa) - A flower not only symbolizes freshness and but is also a gesture of good will. It symbolizes the sweet and enduring memories of the visit between the host and the guest that stay with them for several days.
Atithi Devo Bhavah Campaign
The government of India adopted the ancient verse from the ancient Hindu scripture to promote the increasing tourism influx in the country. The tourists had some complaints when they used to visit the country like overcharging from the vendors, misbehavior and unfriendly attitude. Responding to the need of the tourists, Ministry of Tourism came up with the Social Awareness Campaign for attitudinal and behavioural change towards the tourists and so adopted the part of the verse – athithi devo bhava from the Indian scripture itself so that it gives a psychological impact upon the local populace to treat the guests with love, respect and warmth.
The main aim of the government in this nationwide “Atithi Devo Bhavah” campaign is to sensitize key stakeholders in the tourism industry through a process of training & orientation. Extending it to one notch further, the campaign takes into account the general public as a whole focusing on their attitudinal and behavioural change. The campaign aims to train and orient taxi drivers, guides, police, immigration officers and other personnel who are the first levels to interact with the tourists. The different stages in "Atithi Devo Bhavah" campaign are Sensitization, Screening, Induction, Certification and Feedback of key stakeholders so that a process-chain is created resulting into desired tourist-friendly environment created over a period of time.
The Union Ministry of Tourism has chosen actor - Aamir Khan as brand ambassador for the campaign of 'Atithi Devo Bhavah' who endorses it at various platforms across the mass media.
This Indian tradition of hospitality is known the world over for its warmth and affection. This exactly is the reason why millions of tourists every year love to come to India. Once in India, it would be recommendable to stay in Indian homes if there is opportunity because it is the place where the real flavor of Indian hospitality could be experienced. But even if such opportunity is not there, there are no reasons to feel sad as Indian hotels provide similar warm hospitality following the rich Indian tradition of welcoming their guests with respect and care.
Indian food and cuisines must be enjoyed to its fullest once in India. The curries and spices used in preparation of the food are unique to India only. Indian sweets, delicacies, and aroma of the spices used in preparation of the Indian food are really mouth-watering.
Indian people are considerate and affectionate towards the guests. They are generally friendly, of helping attitude and hospitable. They give due care to provide their guests with warm hospitality and comfort. It is considered bad in India if any guest goes with any kind of hard feeling and so they never let a guest go away unhappy from their home. The tourists coming to receive everything required to make stay pleasant and memorable right from the splendid tourists spot to the rich local cuisines to the spiritual upliftment they achieve to the warm hospitality given by the Indians. Due to these reasons, it would not be an exaggeration to say that the tourists visiting India want to come back to India again & again.
Indian culture represents a colorful mosaic of various customs, fairs and festivals in which its citizens participate with complete faith and devotion...
India is a land where there are different religions. It is the only nation where people of different religions live with each other peacefully and in harmony...