India is a land steeped in culture and social customs, and there are a multitude of gift-giving occasions that apply to Indian women. Most types of gifts are acceptable and appreciated, as the sincerity of the giver is valued above the actual gift item. Gifts are based on the holiday, recipient's religion, giver's financial status and giver's relation to the woman receiving the gift.
Special Women's Holidays
Women's Day and Karwa Chauth are the two best-known holidays centered around women. On these occasions, the closer you are related to the woman, the more expensive and elaborate the gift should be. For example, the husband should give expensive jewelry and clothing, while a girl's family would give a dry-food basket to the girl's mother-in-law.
Diwali is the biggest gift-giving holiday in India. Appropriate gifts for Diwali include dry foods, sweets, silver, home decor and gift hampers. Silver is commonly given as a means of bestowing a blessing on a woman and her family. Gift items, again, are based on your relations with the woman. Neighbors, for example, would give dry foods or sweets, whereas family members would likely give hampers with clothing or household appliances and food. Husbands are expected to provide a gift for their wives commensurate with what they are able to afford. This gift can be clothes, jewelry or appliances. There is no limit to the gifts that can be given to women on Diwali.
Birthdays, weddings and the birth of a baby are special occasions in any Indian woman's life. It is appropriate to give clothing, jewelry, household items or keepsake items to her or the new baby. Gifts for these occasions are similar to those in other cultures with the exception of where the Indian woman lives. For example, if living in America the woman may be given a new set of ovenware, while in India she would be given a new pressure cooker or tava.
Gift Customs Throughout the Year
When visiting someone's home it is sometimes customary to present a gift. If you intend to present separate gifts to the husband and wife, the wife should receive the better of the two. Typical gifts include dry fruits, sweets and money. Husbands also are expected to pamper their wives with little gifts randomly. For example, if he stops at the store on his way home, it would be customary to bring home a small chocolate bar for his wife.
It is completely inappropriate to present a gift of any kind to an Indian woman who does not know you. A Hindu should also never be presented with gifts made of cow leather or made from animals, nor should gifts be wrapped in black or white paper. Muslim recipients should never be given images, statues or representations of dogs.