India has more than twenty regional languages. Thankfully, you need to learn just one crucial word to greet someone in India, and that is “Namaste”.
Namaste is a traditional greeting, and it is not just for yogis. Usually accompanied with a slight bow and hands pressed together, palms touching and fingers pointing upwards, thumbs close to the chest. … it is more than just saying Hi or Hello.
The spiritual meaning of namaste
Namaste has a lot of power. It is not a superficial gesture, neither is it an ordinary word. Namaste means “I honor the divinity within you”. The basis for the meaning comes from the concept of “the Higher Self”, which is the sacred divinity within all of us. Ancient hindu wisdom teaches us that we have three bodies… the physical, the astral and the causal. By greeting someone with “Namaste”, we are also acknowledging the two bodies beyond the physical one.
When you meet someone new or known, use the word namaste to show them a mark of respect. Let the other person know that you acknowledge the presence of God in them. Do pronounce it correctly, nuh-mUH-st-hey, putting stress on the second syllable.
Greeting norms and traditions
- It is generally appropriate for men and women to shake hands. However, it is advisable to wait for a woman to extend her hand first.
- Avoid greeting someone with a hug or a kiss unless you know the person well.
- Indians expect people to greet the eldest or most senior person first. When greeting elders, some Indians may reach down and touch the ground or the elder’s feet as a sign of respect.
- It is advisable to address people by their title (Mr, Mrs, etc.) and last name until they have indicated that you may move on to a first-name basis.
- It is common to add the gender-neutral honorific suffix ‘ji’ (pronounced as the alphabet “G”) onto a first name to show respect (for example, ‘Arun-ji’).
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