Tarini Rahul Shorewala

7 Years

53 Years

The British School


Atithi Devo Bhava : Why is a guest considered god in India? Essay by Tarini,10

Have you ever wondered why Indians say guests are akin to god? 10-year-old Tarini from Delhi explores in this essay

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Have you ever thought why many Indians say they treat their guests as God? Well, this is an Indian belief that any guests coming to our home are Gods in another form. Hence, we have been told to treat all our guests with respect and honour, making them feel extra special. 


The Upanishads also outline the same using stories. Here is one of them. 


Once upon a time, there lived an old couple in a rundown, tattered house. They never had enough food and were always hungry.  A day came when a sage stopped by their house whilst the couple were having dinner. He seemed very hungry and so the old pair decided to give him their food as they believed in the saying, ‘Atithi Devo Bhava’ meaning ‘a guest is akin to God’. The sage, delighted at the old couple’s generosity, thanked them profusely and gave them a blessing of profound riches for the rest of their lives, as long as they stayed kind and grateful for what they had. Just like the old couple in the story, all Indians are taught to treat their guests like God.


To this day, many families follow this ancient saying as they believe that God would bless them. An example of this would be how my family treats guests. My uncle of English origin had once visited us in India (this was his first trip to our home town) and we had tried our level-best to create the same ‘English atmosphere’ by making him food from there and changing a lot of rules to make him feel comfortable as well. 


Though many Indians do try to follow what was said, they cannot always follow this belief since nowadays we have smaller houses and our parents cannot host so many people at once at home as they may be busy. Irrespective of whether they follow these beliefs or not, it is interesting to see how our ancient texts are still remembered even today. Perhaps we cannot do a lot but little gestures of kindness to our guests could mean the world to them. 


Here is another saying by a very learned old sage, “No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.”


Image source : stepbeyondborders.org

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