Suggestions relating to observing Hindu customs during medical treatment
Most Hindus do not eat beef. Some will eat eggs, some not: it is best to ask each individual. Dairy produce is acceptable, so long as it is free of animal fat. Some Hindus will eat only cottage cheese - again, the best thing to do is to check with the individual. It is important to remember that strict vegetarians will be unhappy about eating even vegetarian items if they are served from the same plate or with the same utensils as meat. it is not enough simply to remove meat from the plate when the patient points out that he or she is vegetarian. Apart from practices based on religious beliefs, some Indians may have strongly held traditional ideas about taking certain foods at particular times - for example, it is considered unwise to take milk or any citrus fruit when suffering from a cough.
Very few Hindus would insist on fasting when in hospital; they would even take hot milk, fruit, tea and salad without salt. At the end of each period of fasting, visitors may bring in 'prasad' so that the patient can join in the celebration. This will be in the form of a small quantity of food, perhaps sweets, which have been offered to God in thanksgiving and is now shared amongst those present.
Ablutions and Toilet
Hindus will need water for washing in the same room as the WC itself. If there is no tap there, or if a bed-pan has to be used, they will be grateful to have a container of water provided. Hindu patients much prefer to wash in free flowing water, rather than sitting in a bath.
Ideas of Modesty
As with all Asian patients, a Hindu woman is likely to have a strong preference for a female doctor when be examined or treated. They should be accommodated in mixed wards only in emergency situations. An open-minded and helpful approach can save the patient embarrassment - for example a female patient finds it difficult to accept an X-ray gown because of its shortness.
Attitudes to Medical and Social Work Staff and Illness
Generally speaking, Hindu patients will willingly accept the authority of the professional, whether male or female. They will tend to favour home remedies for ailments such as coughs, and be slow to seek professional attention.
If you would like to propose additional material, kindly email suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org
Return to observing religious customs during medical treatment page.