8 customs and laws you should know before you visit Mumbai

8 customs and laws you should know before you visit Mumbai

8 customs and laws you should know before you visit Mumbai
18th April 2024

The financial and commercial business hub of India; Mumbai is a key destination for business travellers. Its captivating natural landmarks and vibrant culture also attracts millions of tourists each year. In 2023, Indian airports saw  total passenger numbers exceeding 327 million, with 56.9 million being international travellers. Visitors to Mumbai significantly contributed to this figure.


If you are visiting on a business trip or relocating to Mumbai it is important to understand the city’s traditions. Navigating through Mumbai’s corporate environment can be challenging so knowing more about the city’s business etiquettes, respectful greetings, and cultural norms is advised. Read on to discover 8 Mumbai cultural dos and don’ts.


Gateway of India in Mumbai
The Gateway of India in Mumbai, one of the city's most notorious landmarks


1. Namaste


‘Namaskar’ or ‘namaskaram’, translating as ‘I bow to the divine in you’.


In Mumbai, performing Namaste is not just a customary Hindu greeting, but an essential aspect of business etiquette. It is where you greet someone by putting your hands together in prayer and slightly bow. It symbolises respect and humility, if in a business meeting you offer Namaste, this is seen as a sign of sincerity and reverence towards another person. It is something that shouldn’t be overlooked if you are visiting India and should be done especially if you greeting someone of power or significance.


2. Food & drink


If you are in a professional corporate gathering on your business trip to Mumbai it is best not to share your drink or eat with your left hand. These customs are deeply rooted within Indian culture and are a must know before you visit. Sharing drinks or touching lips and eating food with your left hand are seen discourteous. Adhering to Indian tradition and eating with the right hand is a sign of respect and cleanliness, as the left hand is associated with tasks considered less hygienic such as cleaning your feet.

Indian street food
India is home to the largest vegetarian population 


3. Indian gift giving etiquette


Gift giving In India is taken seriously and symbolises genuine friendship and closeness. In business, the act of giving a gift can help form a strong bond between two parties. However, if you are in a corporate setting avoid giving lavish gifts that could be interpreted as bribery. Also, be aware that it’s considered impolite to open gifts Infront of the giver, especially if its personal gift. Hindu’s view cows as sacred animals so avoid giving Indians a gift made from leather. When visiting Mumbai, it’s recommended that you do not give alcohol as a gift and note that black and white objects are deemed as unlucky colours by some locals in Mumbai.


4. Cover up when entering religious buildings


In Mumbai, covering your head with a cap or cloth upon entering a Sufi Shrine or any form of religious building is a seen as a sign of respect. Regardless of gender, the act of covering the head is a symbol of submission to a higher power and a mark of humility before entering a sacred space. There are numerous well-known traditions in Mumbai, however this custom is engrained in cultural and religious beliefs making it important to the people of Mumbai.

A Large Colorful Idol made of Clay representing Hindu God 'Lord Ganesa' during the Ganesh Chaturthi religious festival in Mumbai and Mysuru
Around 69% of Mumbai's population follow Hinduism


5. Local interactions


In Mumbai, it’s commonplace for locals to ask what can be perceived  as ‘personal’ questions. This stems from the city’s communal atmosphere. When visiting Mumbai, it’s good to know that locals can come across overly welcoming or abrupt, often genuinely curious about people. Questions about your family, job, income, or relationship aren’t seen as intrusive in Indian culture. If you are in a business meeting and find you are being asked what you feel are personal questions, answer how you feel comfortable, but don’t be alarmed as this is commonplace in India.


6. Avoid showing public affection


When visiting India, it’s advisable that you do not show public displays of affection due to cultural norms and religious expectations. The city embraces diversity, however, acts like prolonged hugging and intimate kissing can be considered inappropriate by most in Mumbai, and may attract unwanted attention. Although there are some laws in Mumbai which state that public affection is an offence and punishable act, fines or charges are uncommon.

Avoid showing public affection in public in Mumbai
Public displays of affection become an offence or criminal act in Mumbai when it is perceived as disturbing to others around


7. Alcohol consumption


One of the more notable Indian laws is that the legal drinking age in Mumbai is 25. In the state of Maharashtra, it is illegal to consume alcohol under the age of 25. This law was put in place to mitigate the risks associated with underage drinking. If you are on a business trip or relocating to Mumbai, then it’s critical that you know this is one of the stricter laws in Mumbai. You could be fined or even arrested I caught drinking or buying alcohol under the age of 25.


8. A ban on the usage of plastic bags and bottles


In June 2018, Mumbai, the state capital of Maharashtra, became the largest city in India to ban single-use plastics such as plastic bags and bottles. This was a concentrated effort by the Maharashtra government to promote sustainable living, adopt more eco-friendly practices, and minimise littering. Mumbai is heavily densely populated meaning plastic pollution is a big issue. If you are visiting or relocating to Mumbai, laws in India state that if you are caught using single use plastics penalties can range from 5,000 rupees to 25,000 rupees.

A plastic bottle on the table
'penalties for manufacturing and selling these items were now higher than ever, including fines of up to $350 and jail terms of up to three months'



Adhering to local customs shows appreciation for the city’s culture and traditions. If you are visiting Mumbai on a business trip not only, is it valuable to understand Indian laws but get a better understanding of Indian business etiquette. Knowing these eight norms and traditions in Mumbai will help if you are visiting this exciting city.


Make sure to check out SilverDoor’s selection of serviced apartments in Mumbai and contact us if you have any queries about booking corporate serviced accommodation. Explore more content on the website including a business trip to Mumbai all you need to know guide.

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