Atithi Devo Bhavah is a Sanskrit verse which simply means – consider the guest as god. This value-laden statement is drawn from an ancient scripture Hindu religion which has always been the ethos of Indian culture. Recently, this value laden verse has found its place in the tagline of Ministry of Tourism to improve the treatment of the foreign tourists coming in the country due to the popularity India has gained in the recent times as a favorite tourist destination.
The reasons for India becoming one of the most sought destinations are not based on some myth or chances. It is chiefly because of the range of choices available to the visiting tourists in the country in terms of places, geographical locations, rich historical art and artifacts, culture and cuisines that attract more and more tourists in Himachal. There are beautiful snow-capped mountains, deep valleys,lakes and monuments, forests and wildlife sanctuaries and many other places of high interests in the Himachal Pradesh.
“Atithi Devo Bhava” is part of the verse mentioned in the Taittiriya Upanishad, Shikshavalli I.20 that reads in full as: matrudevo bhava; pitrudevo bhava; acharyadevo bhava; atithidevo bhava. The literal translation of the verse would bring out the sense that an ideal person should strive to "become a person who considers the Mother as God, the Father as God, the Teacher as God and the guest as God."
“Tithi” in Sanskrit or even in Hindi language means a (calendrical) date. “A-tithi” means who does not have any date. In olden times, there were no fast modes of communication as compared to today and thus if anyone wants to visit or meet his near and dear ones, there were no ways he could communicate his arrival. So he used to pay visit without any information and therefore in course of time guest used to be called “athithi” one who does not have any fixed time of arrival. “Devo” in Sanskrit means God-like and “bhava” means to assume/understand. Atithi Devo Bhava means to assume or understand a guest as God-like and so pay respect and homage in the similar way one would give to his God.
The government of India adopted the ancient verse from the ancient Hindu scripture to promote the increasing tourism influx in the country. The tourists had some complaints when they used to visit the country like overcharging from the vendors, misbehavior and unfriendly attitude. Responding to the need of the tourists, Ministry of Tourism came up with the Social Awareness Campaign for attitudinal and behavioural change towards the tourists and so adopted the part of the verse – athithi devo bhava from the Indian scripture itself so that it gives a psychological impact upon the local populace to treat the guests with love, respect and warmth.
The main aim of the government in this nationwide “Atithi Devo Bhavah” campaign is to sensitize key stakeholders in the tourism industry through a process of training & orientation. Extending it to one notch further, the campaign takes into account the general public as a whole focusing on their attitudinal and behavioural change. The campaign aims to train and orient taxi drivers, guides, police, immigration officers and other personnel who are the first levels to interact with the tourists. The different stages in "Atithi Devo Bhavah" campaign are Sensitization, Screening, Induction, Certification and Feedback of key stakeholders so that a process-chain is created resulting into desired tourist-friendly environment created over a period of time.
The Union Ministry of Tourism has chosen actor - Aamir Khan as brand ambassador for the campaign of 'Atithi Devo Bhavah' who endorses it at various platforms across the mass media.
This Himachali tradition of hospitality is known the world over for its warmth and affection. This exactly is the reason why millions of tourists every year love to come to Himachal. Once in Himachal, it would be recommendable to stay in Himachali homes if there is opportunity because it is the place where the real flavor of Himachali hospitality could be experienced. But even if such opportunity is not there, there are no reasons to feel sad as Himachal hotels provide similar warm hospitality following the rich Himachal tradition of welcoming their guests with respect and care.
Himachal food and cuisines must be enjoyed to its fullest once in India. The curries and spices used in preparation of the food are unique to Himachali only. Himachali sweets, delicacies, and aroma of the spices used in preparation of the Himachali food are really mouth-watering.
Himachali people are considerate and affectionate towards the guests. They are generally friendly, of helping attitude and hospitable. They give due care to provide their guests with warm hospitality and comfort. It is considered bad in Himachal if any guest goes with any kind of hard feeling and so they never let a guest go away unhappy from their home. The tourists coming to receive everything required to make stay pleasant and memorable right from the splendid tourists spot to the rich local cuisines to the spiritual upliftment they achieve to the warm hospitality given by the Himachalis. Due to these reasons, it would not be an exaggeration to say that the tourists visiting Himachal want to come back to Himachal again & again.