A Simple Greeting, A Deep Transmission Of Love

How do you greet people? Maybe you nod at them, maybe you shake the other person’s hand, maybe you bow or do a curtsy. Everyone is different and every culture has different norms regarding greetings.

Welcome

Welcome

In Singapore I couchsurfed with a local girl. She was also hosting a girl from the Czech Republic who spent many months, maybe it was years, here in India. When I met her, she put her hands together in front of her chest, smiled, and bowed her head slightly. It was her way of greeting, one I knew was common in India, but one I felt was very awkward and out of place outside of India.

I guess I felt awkward because what was I supposed to do? I normally shake hands, but if her hands are both together, I’m left hanging with no way to greet her “my way.” I didn’t feel like it was rude or anything, just awkward.

Statue In Thailand

Statue In Thailand

In Thailand it’s the same. Called a wai, they also greet others by clasping their hands, bowing, and saying “sawasdee.” Sawasdee means “well-being.”

In India, “namaste” is said. Namaste literally means “I bow to you.” The more formal version, namaskar, literally means “I bow to your form.” Both namaste and namaskar stem from the belief that each of us was created by the divine and retain a spark of that divinity. So namaskar is generally said to mean “I salute the divinity within you” and ones’ hands are placed first on the forehead to touch the third eye, and then the chest to touch the heart.

I don’t know about you, but these convey much, much more respect than a nod of the head and saying ‘sup.

Saluting The Divinity Within YOU At An Indian Ashram

Saluting The Divinity Within YOU At An Indian Ashram

Here in India I’ve embraced this style of greeting. And once you get started, it’s easy to feel the power of this greeting. I really feel like I an transmitting much more respect and love by getting people in this way.

Thai Temple In Chiang Mai

Thai Temple In Chiang Mai

Sadly, in India I feel like this style of greeting is dying out in favor of the more “modern” handshake. When I greet Indians with clasped hands and a namaste or namaskar they find it very endearing. Maybe it’s “cute” for them. I don’t know.

I didn’t think I’d adopt the traditional style of greeting so quickly, but I could feel its appeal. I feel like shaking hands, though skin-to-skin contact is made, is much, much more impersonal.

Instead of touching the other person’s hand, I’d rather transmit love, respect, warmth, and salute the divinity within them.

5 replies
  1. Owen Lipsett
    Owen Lipsett says:

    Great post! I get such a sense of happiness from giving the wai (which I first learned at a meditation retreat). Regardless of whether I am giving the wai or receiving it, I feel like it provides a real sense of peace and happiness.

    Reply

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  1. […] the pictures, we bid each other adieu in the respectful way of clasping our hands in prayer and bowing toward each […]

  2. […] I was so thankful these guys helped I can’t even put it into words. At the end I put my hands together in front of my chest and said thank you. They didn’t speak English, but they understood what I was trying to convey. […]

  3. […] happiness, Happiness Plunge, India, inspiration, lovingkindness, metta, Thailand, travel Today’s inspirational words come from Adam Pervez, a traveler, blogger, volunteer and Chief Happiness Officer of the Happiness Plunge whom I’ll be interviewing on Wednesday.  Here, he reflects upon what he describes as a simple greeting and a deep transmission of love: […]

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