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Why in India people burp when eating (or at any other point of time)

  • Me: Hello, how are you today? 
  • My colleague: I’m not too good, I’ve got gas.

 Oh Lord, gaaas??? How graceful! So for one thing my question was rhetorical and for another thing, gas??? Oh, this is gonna be a long, long day… 

I wrote in August 2008 that while I "was peacefully walking in the street, a tiny old woman, passing by my side, let go of such a powerful burp that I would have been less shocked if she had called me a dirty bitch...".  


Five years later, this topic is still big for me; for instance I recently had to inform one of my managers that if he wanted to promote one of his sales guys one day, he would have to start by asking him to stop burping all the time. This PIG makes me lose my appetite every time we eat together. He burps a good ten times during the meal. And not the small burps eh, no he goes all out, gives everything he has...  

It is perhaps socially accepted (even appreciated) in India but when you work for an international company, you have to know the customs of your colleagues to avoid shocking your CEO visiting your country for a couple of days (and also losing all credit – yes I know, it’s sad but it is like this, we judge based on appearances...) 


I am no one to give moral lessons to an Indian who would let out a huge fart in a train. But when my colleague blew my right ear with his burp, at a moment I was least expecting it (I was sitting in the car and on the phone), I forbade him very strongly to ever repeat this with me, ever again... So that we could share a good professional understanding. I do my best to adapt but I must admit, it is really hard when it comes to all these body noises...


It is actually probably the right thing to do and let the nature do, mind you but I just can't! Indians farts and burps a lot because 1. They don't restrain themselves, 2. They eat a lot of spicy food (which increases gases). Simple! 


Here is what I had found on the burping theme at the time: 


I asked myself “why am I such a prude?”, “why, even after 2 years, I still lose myRot.jpg appetite when an Indian guy burps loudly in the middle of a meal or why hearing someone clearing his throat in the restaurant sink gives me nausea? Why do I feel like slapping my Indian boss when he farts during a meeting? 

Bah… I think that's CUL-TU-RAL... In Asia and the Middle East, a good eructation means that one has enjoyed the meal. In the Western world it is downright "yucky" (quote from the net which I fully support). 


And yet, yet... These burping things have long been accepted in the West too. 


For example, in the Roman empire: 

"Burping at the table was a politeness justified by philosophers who thought that following the nature was the wisest thing to do." Pushing further this doctrine, the Emperor Claudius had taken an edict authorizing emitting other gaseous sounds. In his epigrams, Martial shows off to his hosts by calling with a snap of fingers the slave who brings them the urinal and helps them to use it. Finally, it was common to see, at the end of the cena, vomit soiling the precious mosaics of the floor. “ (1)  


Then in the Middle-Age (2) (and you'll see that we are not far from the India of today!):  

At the time, we ate very spicy food (and this causes gases (and Indians eat very spicy)); this was the era of spicy stews. (3)  

Food is caught with the hands (which are regularly dipped in bowls of herbs to disinfect and perfume – fingerballs!). (4) 

And people spat: "In the Middle Age, spitting was not only a custom, but also a natural need. The only restrictions that apply the courteous knights were to not spit on the table or across the table, but only under the table. » (5)  


And finally at the Renaissance (I think this is the time burping started to become gross in Europe): 

“Table manners appear in the nobility around 1530 following the publication of a book entitled Civilitas morum puerilium by Erasmus.” (6) Mundane meals became a sort of show where everyone shows off to be recognised for his rank. Catherine de Medici (1519-1589) brought the fork (with two teeth), fine earthenware and glassware, but we continued to eat with the fingers. At the table, the banks of the Middle-Age were replaced by individual seats, the towel became routine: it was very big to protect the flanges. On the tables, spices were easy to grab and they started serving meals with some order: it began with fruits, then gruels, the roasts or the grills, to finish by desserts. » (7)  



india,table manner,farting,burping,eructationI did a small research and this is not an Indian who holds the record for the world loudest burp - they could, mind you, they already hold the record of longest hairs in the ears! (see post) - but a British, Hunnwhose burp reached 118.1 decibels (the equivalent of a chain saw in operation). 



·         "Why don't you burp or fart? Has this meal displeased you? “ Martin Luther. 

·         "Snobbery is a Champagne bubble that hesitates between fart and burp.” Serge Gainsbourg 

·         "Who does not burp nor fart is doomed to explode.": Erasmus.

 (1) Source: emperors - Roman .net 

(2) Article_Guidecasa.com_Le middle ages to table.pdf 

(3) Source: 

(4) Source:

(5) Source:

(6) Source : Des bonnes manières.pdf

(7) Source :

(8) Source : Wikipedia



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