Another traveler, Sarah McDonald, a 30-year-old geologist in Halifax, Nova Scotia, decided to buy a ticket for a wedding during her 2019 backpacking trip to India with a friend. Ms. remembered McDonald who was “called out” for not wearing a sari at a ceremony where they were told to do so.
“We’re backpacking, so there’s no way we’re going to get those custom-made, beautiful wedding gowns,” she says. “We tried to buy saris, but when we were in our rooms trying to wear them, we couldn’t do it. A bit complicated. So we wore flowy skirts and pants with embellishments, Indian-style embellishments.”
said Ms. McDonald said he didn’t feel any apprehension about entering a traditional, sacred event as an outsider. “There are a lot of eyes on us, because we really stand out,” he said. “But I’m not really worried about breaking any customs or disrespecting any religious rituals.”
In interviews, some travelers referred to traditional clothing as “costumes” and religious ceremonies as “Bollywood performances.” Although the general lack of cultural sensitivity is often due to ignorance, Dr. Bhandari that “racial and ethnic identity can provide a sense of superiority and confidence to ‘experience’ other people’s celebration.”
Rochona Majumdar, a professor of South Asian studies at the University of Chicago, added that cultural experiences are often packaged to be consumed quickly. “There is a certain right to it,” he said.
But another issue that arose, said Dr. Majumdar, is a “flattering of Indian culture.” He added, “this is a very big country, and weddings are not held the same way everywhere.” He added, “For example, where I come from in Bengal, people usually don’t dance at their weddings, but now you have a standard model of what an Indian wedding is, and it looks like watching Bollywood .”