Namaste (//, NAH-məs-tay; Sanskrit: नमस्ते; Hindi: [nəməsteː] ( listen)), sometimes expressed as Namaskar or Namaskaram, is a customary greeting when people meet or depart. It is commonly found among Hindus of the Indian Subcontinent, in some Southeast Asian countries, and diaspora from these regions. Namaste is 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. In Hinduism it means "I bow to the divine in you".
Namaste or namaskar is used as a respectful form of greeting, acknowledging and welcoming a relative, guest or stranger. It is used with goodbyes as well. It is typically spoken and simultaneously performed with the palms touching gesture, but it may also be spoken without acting it out or performed wordlessly; all three carry the same meaning. This cultural practice of salutation and valediction originated in the Indian subcontinent.
Etymology, meaning and origins
Namaste (Namas + te, Devanagari: नमः + ते = नमस्ते) is derived from Sanskrit and is a combination of the word "Namaḥa" and the enclitic 2nd person singular pronoun "te". The word "Namaḥa" takes the Sandhi form "Namas" before the sound "t".
A less common variant is used in the case of three or more people being addressed namely Namo vaḥ which is a combination of "Namaḥa" and the enclitic 2nd person plural pronoun "vaḥ". The word "Namaḥa" takes the Sandhi form "Namo" before the sound "v".
The gesture is widely used throughout Asia and beyond. Namaste or namaskar is used as a respectful form of greeting, acknowledging and welcoming a relative, guest or stranger. It is used with good byes as well. 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. This is sometimes expressed, in ancient Hindu scriptures such as Taittiriya Upanishad, as Atithi Devo Bhav (literally, the guest is god).
In Bengali, the Namaste gesture is expressed as Nōmōshkar (নমস্কার), and said as Prōnäm (Bengali: প্রনাম) informally.
In Tamil culture, the gesture is known as Kumpiṭu (கும்பிடு), which is composed of two words kumpu (கும்பு) meaning 'to cup hands' and iṭu இடு meaning 'to do'; while an equivalent of the salutation would be வணக்கம் (vaṇakkam), which is roughly translated as 'greetings'.
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- Greenwood, Chad (Fall 1997), "Ancient Indus Valley Seal print showing Namaste/anjali mudra", Economics of the Indus valley civilisation, CSU Chico.