Having certain off the track perceptions is a common factor found in first time travelers to any country; India seems to be one of the commonest victim of that. Traveling to India is one activity that is there in most of the travelers’ ‘To-Do’ list. Also, it has been observed that apart from general tourism, more number of gap year travelers, backpackers and wanderers are choosing traveling to India for volunteering. If you are one of those who, too, is planning a volunteering trip to India soon, then there are some of the fallacies you must shed off beforehand.
Myth #1: It is not safe to travel; especially for women
One of the commonest ideas any western traveler has about traveling in India is that, it is not safe. Alright! Let’s get this clear first up, India is NOT UNSAFE. Of course, there is crime happening in the country, but that is as prevalent as in any US, UK, or European country. The total police force in India is close to 16 lakhs (we are not even counting the armed forces in it), which goes to show that the local security is pretty strong. The recent events of rape and terrorist attacks brought the security concerns in India, especially for women, on global platter, but for the matter of fact India is quite low amongst the countries with high rape cases or crime against women. And guess what, US is amongst the top leading countries in that. So, Yes! India is certainly safe as long as travelers follow certain basic precautionary steps while volunteering abroad.
Myth #2: It’s just another country
You may have heard India being referred often as a ‘Sub-continent’. Well, the tag only justifies simply because India is a vast country with people of different ethnicity. Traverse the country from North to South and you will find a contrasting cultural reflection of tradition, lifestyle, food, language, attires, and more. Even during the British colonization, it was a region of princely states, rather than cities. Speak to the locals in North and you will find that they are the descendants of Aryan race, while the Southerners take pride of being Dravidians. India is huge, and so is the list of experiences you may get while volunteering in India. Certainly, India is akin to a continent, than a country.
Myth #3: Hinduism is a religion in India
Yes! The majority of the Indian population is that of the followers of Hinduism. But, you will be appalled to know that ‘Hinduism’ is not a religion as such. Yes! You heard that right. Read any of the ancient Indian manuscripts (Vedas) and you will not find even a single mention about its origin, or that who the founder was. Simply because there isn’t one central authority or a core doctrine. Hinduism is more of an idea, a way of living, a law that govern actions. Hindus have three core deities whom they worship, which are Brahma (The Creator), Vishnu (The Sustainer) and Shiva (The Destroyer). Even as a Hindu, people have as many as millions of Gods to follow and worship.
Myth #4: “Hindi” is the national language of India
Breaking News! There is no ‘national language’ in India as such, let alone Hindi. It is just one of the 22 official languages in India; of course, the most widely accepted, spoken, and written. As explained during the reasoning of India being a sub-continent, it was explained that India is a diverse nation and has people from different cultural backgrounds. There are more than 1600 different dialects that are spoken throughout the country.
Myth #5: It’s always hot in India
Most certainly not. Indian sub-continent experience some of the most beautiful winters from November to February. Of course, summers capture the major part of a year but that too is distributed amongst the fun-filled monsoon, blooming spring, and the majestic fall seasons. In fact, you may even get an opportunity to volunteer in one of the northern cities in India; such as, Delhi, Palampur (Palampur being a hill town), etc. which remains comparatively less hot during summers. And if at all you decide to visit India during November to February season, you may witness the weather that will break your misconception.
Now that the facts are clear, I hope your perceptions towards India have changed for good. If you still have any other concern regarding volunteer traveling to India or queries related to volunteering program, leave it in the comment box and i’ll be glad to answer them all. Welcome to Incredible India!
About the Author
An engineer by education, writer by profession, traveler by passion, and big time foodie by obsession. I like to travel places, and that prompted me to take up writing as i wanted to share my experiences with the unlimited audience.