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India Travel Safety

Will Tattoos Affect Your Trip to India?

“What will Indians think of a foreign tourist with tattoos, and are tattoos acceptable in India?” This question comes from one of my tattooed subscribers, Visith, via email.

The quick answer is no, but there was one incident to be mindful of.

In 2015, an Australian man was harassed in Bengaluru for having a Hindu goddess tattoo on his shin.

The Police detained him and his girlfriend, and they were forced to apologise to a mob who said the tattoo hurt their religious sentiments.

The mob swelled to 25 people as they called their friends to come to the restaurant. This situation had the potential to go very differently.

In general, tattoos are not a problem in India, and just like anywhere else, they’ll probably be a good talking point that locals will chat to you about.

But it might be best to cover any religious iconography to avoid people trying to claim you’re hurting their religious sentiments – even if your tattoo shows appreciation for a local religion.

When you do arrive, I think you will be happy to see a lot of tattoos in India. Tattooing goes back to ancient times in India.

This is a Ramnami man from Chhattisgarh, India. They are devout followers of Lord Ram so you can see he's had the word "Ram" tattooed across his body. Photo by Dylan Goldby.
This is a Ramnami man from Chhattisgarh, India. They are devout followers of Lord Ram, so he’s had the word Ram tattooed across his body. Photo by Dylan Goldby.

Today, while ordering a vada pau in Maharashtra, I noticed the seller had facial tattoos.

While travelling throughout Rajasthan and Gujarat, I saw locals with extensive and impressive tattoos across their faces, hands, and arms.

Then in large cities, you’ll find many young people interested in tattoo art.

A Rabari women from Kutch, India, have practised tattooing for decorative, religious, and therapeutic purposes for hundreds of years.
For hundreds of years, the Rabari women from Kutch, India, have practised tattooing for decorative, religious, and therapeutic purposes.

India has a long history of tattoos, and they have different purposes, do read this article to learn more about the history of tattooing in India.

If you’re travelling to India soon, here’s how to arrive at the airport safely.

Before travelling to India, do read my free India Survival Guide.

If this post helped you, please leave a comment.

By Karl Rock

Karl Rock, is a Hindi speaking Kiwi ex-pat who take viewers behind the scenes of incredible India and its neighbours. He has visited every state and union territory in India, and its culturally similar neighbours – Pakistan and Bangladesh, and aims to make others fall in love with India and the subcontinent.

One reply on “Will Tattoos Affect Your Trip to India?”

Thank you for your thoughts. I am a kiwi women travelling to India in October 2023. I have a half sleeve of dahlia flowers and I was worried about unwanted attention towards this. I guess I should not be so worried.

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