Western toilet seats were established in the 16th century, but at the time, these toilets were limited to the nobility and royalty.
The most defining feature of the Western toilet was the seated posture, which the upper classes appreciated because it looked and felt more dignified than having to squat. Indian toilet seats are designed with the opposite intention: to allow users to squat.
The Western toilet seat still features prominently in our lives all these centuries later. Still, the jury is out on just how beneficial this toilet technique is compared to some of the more established traditions in India (or anywhere else in the world).
Read on to learn more about the Indian style toilet and how it compares to the Western-style toilet.
How Do Indians Use The Toilet Seat?
The established Indian tradition is to squat when passing a bowel movement in the toilet, and most of their bathrooms have been designed to accommodate that technique.
While the exact design of a squat toilet might vary depending on where you are in the world, the underlying principle will remain the same.
In most Indian toilets, your posture will involve placing one foot on either side of the toilet hole and then lowering yourself into a squat position.
Changing Toilet Trends In India
While many consider squatting to be the more traditional and even better toilet technique, there is some evidence that Indians are growing increasingly comfortable with the idea of using a Western toilet seat.
However, those Indians who are growing increasingly comfortable with a Western toilet seat live primarily in urban areas and come from more affluent backgrounds.
So, it is not always enough to be more exposed to Western culture (which you would be in an urban setting). Something taken for granted is that installing a Western toilet seat in your home is also usually very expensive.
When you set cost and exposure aside, the other significant factor that has a meaningful impact on whether more Indians will install a Western toilet seat is whether they consider it to be an advancement in their lives.
Indians who have not abandoned the Indian toilet seat need to be convinced that there is value in using a Western toilet seat, and there is actually scant evidence to suggest that there is.
How To Use An Indian Toilet Seat Step-By-Step
1. Remove your pants and trousers completely
It is in your best interests to remove your trousers and pants altogether when using an Indian seat, to avoid an embarrassing situation from unfolding, especially when you are in a public toilet.
When you use a Western seat, the convention might be to drop your pants to your knees or ankles, but that will not be the savvy thing to do here.
When you first enter an Indian toilet, it might also be prudent of you to first check that there is a place for you to hang your pants. There will usually be one available, but the absence of such a place might be considered counterproductive.
2. Squat with your back facing the wall
When you use a Western seat, the convention will be to sit with your back facing the wall. The same principle is adopted when squatting over an Indian toilet seat.
That is because posture is the only primary difference between an Indian toilet seat and a Western toilet seat. However, in many instances, the plumbing requirements are precisely the same.
So, the toilet hole and piping will usually be in a very similar place in relation to the rest of the room. Something perhaps taken for granted is that many squat toilets still have a flush feature that you would typically associate with a Western toilet.
3. See how low you can go
A critical aspect of the squat toilet technique is finding your footing on either side of the hole while also squatting as low as you can go.
For medical reasons that we will get into shortly, it will be in your best interests to go as far as you can beyond the 90 when passing a bowel movement.
Squatting really low will also limit the amount of splash when passing a bowel movement. This is where you will probably find the greatest divergence when comparing Indian style seats to Western seats.
Why Should You Abandon Western Toilet Seats For Indian Toilet Seats?
Skin and Bodily Contact
Any surviving germs and the diseases associated with them will most likely be transferred from a Western toilet seat to the people using them through contact with the skin.
The good news is that this kind of transmission is extraordinarily rare, even though it is possible. However, if you are somebody who is paranoid about the diseases and their potential transmission, a Western seat will not be for you.
An Indian seat does not carry with it that kind of complication because the only part of the body remotely close to the seat would be the feet. Ordinarily, you would be wearing some type of footwear when you do visit the loo.
Another consideration is that with a standard Western seat, your clothes are likely to have some form of contact with the toilet because it is not common to take them entirely off while passing a bowel movement.
When using an Indian toilet seat, you will have little choice but to remove your clothes entirely during a bowel movement, so there is no contact whatsoever. So, if you value keeping your clothes clean, you might be better off using an Indian toilet seat here too.
The seating for a Western toilet actually works against the human anatomy. It is not a natural way for a person to pass a bowel movement. On a Western seat, you will sit at a 90-degree angle, which pinches and blocks your intestines.
Sitting at a 90-degree angle also makes it exceedingly difficult to produce a good or satisfactory stool clearance. We have all felt that way at some point, primarily if you have used both a Western seat and a squat toilet.
The posture adopted for an Indian toilet seat has health benefits. It helps massage the abdominal organs and stimulates the nervous action of the bowel, which helps give a good motion when clearing your stool.
Gravity will do most of the work for you when you are in a squatting position, which is most associated with an Indian seat. And the job done by that gravity is more thorough and satisfactory than would be achieved on a Western seat.
Squatting relaxes your muscles when using the toilet while sitting puts unnecessary pressure on important muscles and organs in your body. In our minds, the choice for you should be obvious.