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The Namaste

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Namaste sometimes spoken as Namaskar or Namaskaram, is a respectful form of greeting in Hindu custom, found on the Indian subcontinent mainly in Nepal and India and among the Indian diaspora. It is used both for salutation and valediction.

In Hinduism it is believed that God is present everywhere. Every person whether good or bad has God inside them. By saying Namaste means "I bow to the divine in you".

Namaste is usually spoken with a slight bow and hands pressed together, palms touching and fingers pointing upwards, thumbs close to the chest. This gesture is called Añjali Mudrā or Pranamasana. The greeting may also be spoken without the gesture or the gesture performed wordlessly, carrying the same meaning.

Barack Obama, who has been seen doing it on various occasions, or you had Ban Ki-moon, the UN Secretary-General, greeting everyone with a namaste at the Times’ Square in New York on the first International Yoga Day.

 

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Etymology, meaning and origins

The Namaste, or ‘namaskar’, or ‘namaskaara’ is one of the five forms of traditional greetings mentioned in the ancient Hindu scriptures, the Vedas. It literally translates to “I bow to you”, and greeting one another with it is a way of saying “May our minds meet”, indicated by the folded palms placed before the chest. The word ‘namaha’ can also be translated as ‘na ma’ (not mine), to signify the reductions of one’s ego in the presence of the other.

 

Uses

The gesture is widely used throughout India, Nepal, Bangladesh, parts of Asia and beyond where people of South and Southeast Asian origins have migrated. Namaste or namaskar is used as a respectful form of greeting, acknowledging and welcoming a relative, guest or stranger. In some contexts, namaste is used by one person to express gratitude for assistance offered or given, and to thank the other person for his or her generous kindness.

Namaskar is also part of the 16 upacharas used inside temples or any place of formal Puja (worship). Namaste in the context of deity worship, conclude scholars, has the same function as in greeting a guest or anyone else. It expresses politeness, courtesy, honor, and hospitality from one person to the other. It is used in goodbyes as well. This is sometimes expressed, in ancient Hindu scriptures such as Taittiriya Upanishad, as Atithi Devo Bhav.

 

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