Namaste, namaste!! Every traveller to India is familiar with this greeting that envelops foreigners from all sides, no matter where they go. Everybody wants to “namaste” you.
So what to do? Ignore? Smile? How many times we find ourselves followed by this cute little child who keeps on greeting us, just waiting for this one word which will completely satisfy it and will make a great story back home (I talked to the foreigner, hi hi ho ho).
But what do we actually say if we reply “Namaste” to someone? Does it just mean “Hello”? As always in India, the answer to that one is not really that straightforward. In a way it is used as a greeting, but means so much more.
It is used for both greeting and saying good-bye, usually accompanied with a small bow (the word actually has its roots in Namas, which is Sanskrit for bowing and reverential salutation) and the palms are joined, just like the little boy on the picture does.
Apart from the root of the word, the greeting would be understood in a wider context, implying that “the spirit in me bows to the spirit in you”, while at the same time showing respect on a different level – as a form of greeting that does not involve any physical contact such as shaking hands or embracing. It can therefore be used in any social context as a respectful way of greeting elders or persons of different gender or status.
Particularly children, who might not know the world “Hello”, are usually delighted if they receive a reply.
Categories: Nourish Body & Mind