Hindu Hospitality

How Guests Are Treated as God in the Hindu Home

Be one to whom the mother is a God. Be one to whom the father is a God. Be one to whom the teacher is a God. Be one to whom the guest is a God.” So advises the Taittiriya Upanishad of the Yajur Veda, affirming the remarkable Hindu reverence for a guest. The Sanskrit word for guest is athithi, “without time,” i.e., “one who has no fixed day for coming.” It remains today the accepted custom of Hindus to visit friends, relatives and even strangers without notice. Hosting guests is one of the five central religious duties or “sacrifices” of the Hindu householder.