Namaste! The Traditional Form of Indian Greeting & Its Significance

by India Travel Tips2 comments

Home > India Travel Tips > Namaste! The Traditional Form of Indian Greeting & Its Significance

Last Updated on: May 4, 2020 |

Namaste! Is it just a salutation and a way of greeting each other? Does it have any deeper significance? Indian culture is a complex and chaotic mixture of various rituals and traditions just like most of its cities and towns. But behind these mind-boggling practices and customs, lies sound logical foundation of thousand years old. Many of these old Indian custom and wisdom lead towards a sound and healthy life. Namaste as a form of no-touch greeting is the greatest example in the current time. Namaste – the traditional greeting in India has definitely got its due crossing the boundaries of language and region. In the meantime let us delve into the meaning of Namaste or Namaskar and what significance does it have in Indian culture.

Namaste Meaning

Namaste is widely used as a greeting in India and Nepal. Along with the uttered word “Namaste”, it is also accompanied by a gesture. The hands are pressed together and placed near your chest with palms touching and fingers pointed upwards. Also, you bow down a little. Sometimes, only the gesture itself without any said words is sufficient as a greeting.

The history of the gesture dates back to several thousands of years. “Namaste” or Namaskar has been mentioned in the Rig Veda, the oldest of the four Vedas, the important Hindu text book. The term has been borrowed from Sanskrit. “Namah” means bow, obeisance or veneration and “te” means you. In short, Namaste stands for I bow down to you. If you delve deeper into the meaning, the word along with the gesture means

“The divine in me bows to the divine in you”.

“The sacred in me recognizes the sacred in you.”

Well, I have seen these lines scribbled unceremoniously across tee-shirts and tote bags. And then I had thought of how the true meaning of Namaste has been lost in everyday conversation.

The gesture of folding hands too has its own significance. In Sanskrit terms, the gesture is known as Hrdayanjali mudra that means reverence from heart, or Atmanjali mudra that means reverence from the soul. There is both humility and respect in the greeting. Namaste means that we are acknowledging ourselves and the person in front of us as a part of the divine creation. In this way, we are considered equal and connect with the other being with a sense of love and gratitude shedding any feelings of ego and arrogance. Isn’t it beautiful?

In Yoga, tips of the fingers are major energy forms. Each fingertip represents certain energy. The little finger represents Tamas or dullness, the ring finger represents Rajas or activity, the middle finger represents Sattva or refinement, the index finger is the individual soul and the thumb represents is the ultimate soul (or Paramatma). So when the fingers are joined together, there is a feeling of calmness and well being.

Namaste ais a no-touch way of greeting and it has a logical reason too. It is also believed that by folding our hands together, we keep our energy protected as opposed to absorbing the other person’s energy (which is usually in the case of handshakes and hugs). As there is no physical contact, the ability for one person to affect another negatively is minimized. Infact, it is well known that the mudras (gestures) in yoga had a specific science behind them.

Anjali Mudra - Namaste

Namaste as a greeting in India

Namaste is a common greeting in India. Young and old use this salutation when they meet as well as while bidding goodbye. Usually, young greets the older people with Namaste. As a foreign tourist visiting India, you can greet anyone with Namaste and a sweet smile. It can never go wrong!

So next time you are in India or in any part of the world for that matter, greet each other with a Namaste. Not only will this serve the purpose of greeting and salutation, but will also keep you safe from those germs from unwanted touch!

Other forms of greetings without physical contact

Well, Namaste is not the only contact-less gesture in the world. From the Wai in Thailand to Bowing in Japan, many countries follow these gestures as a form of greeting. Here are a few of them.

  • Salaam of Islam

This is quite common in India as well. The traditional Islamic greeting of “as-salaam `alaikum” (peace be with you) with a hand gesture does not require physical contact. The greeting reflects the idea of a sacred greeting when a person meets another.

  • Wai in Thailand

This gesture of greeting shows the influence of Hinduism and Buddhism in Thai culture. Wai is the standard greeting across Thailand which involves a gentle bow of the head with one’s hand pressed together in front. This greeting depicts people to be open and peaceful. The Thai Wai is also used in dance performances, apologies and others.

  • Japanese Ojigi (bowing)

Bowing in Japan was introduced in the seventh century as a form of reverence or obeisance and was the exclusive practice of Japanese nobility. Now, it is the most recognized form of nonverbal greeting. Well, the Japanese bow has gradually evolved from the olden days to the modern bow of today.

  • Cup and Clap in Zambia

While shaking hands is common in Zambia, there is also a greeting form without physical contact. In this, you have to cup your hand together and then clap a couple of time while saying “mulibwanji” (means hello) or “mwakabwanji” (means good morning)

For all the sci-fi nerds and Star Trek Fans, there is also the finger separating Live-Long-and-Prosper Salute of Dr. Spock played by Leonard Nimoy!

Namaste

 

Please spread the love and share it with others…

Agni Amrita 2 Backpackers

by Agni Amrita

We are Agni and Amrita, the story-telling team behind Tale of 2 Backpackers and partners in crime in travel and (mis)adventures of life. We have been travelling together for more than a decade looking for immersive experiences while enjoying the little beauties of life.

You May also like…

Travel Experience in India Through the Eyes of Foreign Travelers

Travel Experience in India Through the Eyes of Foreign Travelers

India is a country of extremes. And travel experience in India is going to be an emotional roller coaster ride. For you cannot be enough prepared for India, no matter how much you try, especially if you are coming from the European and North American countries. India...

Indian Souvenirs – What to Buy and From Where

Indian Souvenirs – What to Buy and From Where

While traveling across India, you can see very well witness her diversity and distinctiveness. There is a unique mélange of art and culture in the country and you can view them on your journeys across India. The art, handicrafts, and handlooms of India have found...

Best Indian Food to Try

Best Indian Food to Try

India is a country with such a rich and colourful past, with so many secrets and wonders to offer the curious traveller. However, we’re sure you’ll agree, if there is one thing India is renowned for the world over, it’s the cuisine. Some of the world’s best food is...

2 Comments

  1. Unique content. Yes, the gesture of Namaste is lovely.

    Reply
  2. “Namaste” is the most commonly known Sanskrit greeting. Literally, “namah” means “salutations” and “te” means “to you,” so namaste means “salutations to you”. However,

    “Namaskara” is more polite, and is appropriate for greeting a teacher, parent, or boss. “Kara” means “making or doing,” so combined with “namah,” this phrase means “making reverence.”

    Reply

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Agni Amrita 2 Backpackers

Hi! we’re Agni & Amrita.

A creative couple, explorer and the team behind Tale of 2 Backpackers.

Find more about us.

Recomended Posts

Travel Experience in India Through the Eyes of Foreign Travelers

Travel Experience in India Through the Eyes of Foreign Travelers

India is a country of extremes. And travel experience in India is going to be an emotional roller coaster ride. For you cannot be enough prepared for India, no matter how much you try, especially if you are coming from the European and North American countries. India...

Indian Souvenirs – What to Buy and From Where

Indian Souvenirs – What to Buy and From Where

While traveling across India, you can see very well witness her diversity and distinctiveness. There is a unique mélange of art and culture in the country and you can view them on your journeys across India. The art, handicrafts, and handlooms of India have found...

Best Indian Food to Try

Best Indian Food to Try

India is a country with such a rich and colourful past, with so many secrets and wonders to offer the curious traveller. However, we’re sure you’ll agree, if there is one thing India is renowned for the world over, it’s the cuisine. Some of the world’s best food is...

Interesting and Famous Temples in North India & Others

Interesting and Famous Temples in North India & Others

In continuation of our series on Temples of India, this article is dedicated to some of the famous temples of North India. In terms of structure and design, these temples differ than the South Indian temples. The architectural style of the temples mainly classifies...

Blogging Tips & SEO

Travel Blog SEO for 2021 – Tips on How to Increase Your Traffic?

Travel Blog SEO for 2021 – Tips on How to Increase Your Traffic?

If you have found this page, then in all probability you already have a travel blog and now looking forward towards growing your blog. The most important aspect of growing your website and attracting traffic is Search Engine Optimization or SEO. Whether you are a...

Travel Blog Name Ideas – How to choose awesome Travel Blog Names?

Travel Blog Name Ideas – How to choose awesome Travel Blog Names?

So you are thinking of starting a travel blog? I would say that it is a great decision. Starting a travel blog and continuing it through 5 years has been one of the best decisions of our life. And we always encourage others to start a travel blog. This article is all...

How to Start a Travel Blog in 2021? Things We Wish We Had Known

How to Start a Travel Blog in 2021? Things We Wish We Had Known

We love travelling and we have been doing it for more than a decade. Earlier the travel stories used to find a place in the pages of my diary. But honestly, starting a travel blog was one of the best decisions we had made almost 6 years back. Travel blogging has...

Unusual & Creative Travel Words that you must know in 2019

Unusual & Creative Travel Words that you must know in 2019

About this blog: This contains 38 unique and creative travel words that you can use in your travel vocabulary. Use them in your travel captions or use them for naming your blog.  Oh, yes! We love to travel. And we love to get amazed at new experiences. We love to look...

Don’t miss out

Offbeat and Untold YouTube Subscribe

Copyright © 2021 Tale of 2 Backpackers – Made with ❤️ by us | All Rights Reserved

Pin It on Pinterest