“Atithi devo bhava” literally means “Guests are equivalent to Gods” which is considered to be one of the oldest Indian beliefs and the most beautiful one indeed. Many would disagree but it was practised even in the most ordinary of the homes in India in earlier times. Such beliefs truly make India the “Incredible India”. But the question arises “Is it still prevalent in today’s era?”
Well, it would be unfair to make that judgement in blacks and white. The answer here is rather in grey. In earlier days, the sense of hospitality was more from the heart. Neither the guests nor the hosts worried about the modern facilities or superficial decor. Hosts did the best they could and the guests were adaptive. It was more about a peaceful and sweet stay where they could spend the time with each other.
However, the materialistic world has led us on to wrongly think that there is a threshold of the facilities your house must be equipped with, in order to invite someone and treat them with hospitality. It is more about showing-off the interiors of the house rather than serving them home cooked food. Such presumptions put hosts in a position of a lot of pressure when they have to invite someone to their “Home Sweet Home”. At the same time, the guests are also sometimes either too judgemental or too rigid for their own comfort. They expect their hosts to go out of their way to please them. These misconceptions and rigidness have tarnished the very essence of “Atithi devo bhava”. People look at it as a burden instead of actually looking forward to it.
This can change with a little alteration of the mindsets. The hosts should take care of their guests like their own family members and try to provide a homely environment for their stay. On the other hand, the guests should understand that since it is a busier world today, their hosts are anyway trying to make their stay a memorable one. This would definitely create memories for them instead of worries and revive back the spirit of “Atithi devo bhava”.