At the very basic form, Namaste is a greeting you say and do when you meet someone.
Table of Contents
- What is Namaste?
- Why do people say Namaste?
- What is the usual way to say Namaste?
- What does Namaste mean?
- What does Namaskar mean?
- How is Namaskar different from Namaste?
- How do people from different regions say Namaste or Namaskar?
What is Namaste?
“Namaste” is a greeting commonly used in India and Nepal, which is derived from the Sanskrit language.
Why do people say Namaste?
The offering of Namaste is a way to show respect and honor to the person being greeted.
What is the usual way to say Namaste?
It is often accompanied by a slight bow or placing the palms of the hands together in front of the chest, fingers pointing upwards, with the thumbs touching the sternum.
This gesture is called “anjali mudra” or “pranamasana,” and it is believed to represent the joining of the left and right sides of the body, which symbolizes the union of the individual self with the divine.
Namaste has a cultural significance in India and Nepal, where it is commonly used as a respectful greeting in both formal and informal settings.
It is also a way to acknowledge the divine within the person being greeted and to promote a sense of humility and the sense of connection between the two.
There are similar customary greetings in other cultures. For example, in Japan, people commonly bow as a sign of respect when greeting others, and in Thailand, people place their hands together in a prayer-like gesture and bow slightly as a sign of respect. In many Western cultures, shaking hands is a common way to greet others, and hugging is also becoming more popular.
What does Namaste mean?
Literally translated, namaste means, “The Divine within me bows to the same Divine within you.”
What does Namaskar mean?
Namaskar is a respectful greeting or parting salutation in Hindu and yogic traditions. The word is derived from the Sanskrit base namaha, which means “not me” and refers to bowing in reverence.
How is Namaskar different from Namaste?
Namaskar is sometimes considered a synonym of namaste, but there are subtle differences in their meanings.
Namaste is the more popular and informal term, meaning “salutations to you” or “I bow to you with respect”, while namaskar is more formal and translates as “I pay my salutations”.
Spiritually, another difference is the intended object of the greeting or departing salutation. With namaskar, the object of the greeting is the supreme consciousness within the other person. Namaste, however, is typically used to bow to a divine entity, so on a spiritual level, the “you” to whom the salutation is directed is the divine. The meanings of these two words vary by region and tradition.
Namaskar is composed of three Sanskrit words:
- Nam, which means “to bow to”
- As, which means “to be” or “to exist”
- Kar, which means “doing” or “one who does”
Namaskar, therefore, is sometimes translated as “I do the act of bowing with reverence.”
How do people from different regions say Namaste or Namaskar?
Here are a few examples of how people say “Namaste” or “Namaskar” in different Indian languages:
- Hindi: नमस्ते (Namaste) – This is the standard greeting in Hindi and is widely used across India.
- Marathi: नमस्कार (Namaskar) – This is the standard greeting in Marathi, which is spoken in the state of Maharashtra.
- Bengali: নমস্কার (Nomoshkar) – This is the standard greeting in Bengali, which is spoken in the eastern region of India, including the state of West Bengal.
- Tamil: வணக்கம் (Vanakkam) – This is the standard greeting in Tamil, which is spoken in the southern state of Tamil Nadu.
- Telugu: నమస్కారం (Namaskaram) – This is the standard greeting in Telugu, which is spoken in the southern state of Andhra Pradesh.
- Kannada: ನಮಸ್ಕಾರ (Namaskara) – This is the standard greeting in Kannada, which is spoken in the southern state of Karnataka.
- Gujarati: નમસ્તે (Namaste) – This is the standard greeting in Gujarati, which is spoken in the western state of Gujarat.
- Punjabi: ਸਤ ਸ੍ਰੀ ਅਕਾਲ (Sat Sri Akal) – This is a traditional greeting in Punjabi, which is spoken in the northern state of Punjab. It means “Truth is the ultimate reality.”
It’s worth noting that there may be regional variations in how people say “Namaste” or “Namaskar” in different parts of India, and there may be additional greetings or expressions used in different contexts or situations.
Here are a few examples of greetings similar to “Namaste” from around the world:
Thailand: สวัสดี (Sawatdee) – This is a common greeting in Thai, which is spoken in Thailand. It’s often accompanied by a wai, which is a gesture where the hands are placed together in a prayer-like position and raised to the chest or forehead. Source
Japan: こんにちは (Konnichiwa) – This is a common greeting in Japanese, which is spoken in Japan. It’s often accompanied by a bow, which can range from a slight nod of the head to a deeper bow depending on the formality of the situation.
Indonesia and Malaysia: Salam (Salam sejahtera in Malaysia) – “Salam” means “peace” in Arabic, and it’s used as a greeting in both Indonesia and Malaysia.
It’s often accompanied by a handshake, a bow, or the touching of hands to the chest. Source for images
Tibet: Tashi delek – This is a Tibetan greeting that means “auspicious blessings” or “good luck.” It’s often accompanied by a slight bow or putting the hands together in a prayer-like position.
Philippines: Mabuhay – This is a common greeting in Tagalog, which is spoken in the Philippines. It means “long life” or “welcome” and is often accompanied by a handshake or a slight bow.