Namaste (// NAH-məs-tay; Hindi: [nəməsteː] ( listen); Devanagari: नमस्ते; formal: Namaskar/Namaskaram) is a common spoken valediction or salutation originating from the Hindus and Buddhists in the Indian Subcontinent and also in Japan. It is a customary greeting when individuals meet, and a valediction upon their parting. A non-contact form of salutation is traditionally preferred in India and Nepal; Namaste is the most common form of such a salutation.
When spoken to another person, it is commonly accompanied by a slight bow made with hands pressed together, palms touching and fingers pointed upwards, in front of the chest. This gesture, called Añjali Mudrā or Pranamasana, can also be performed wordlessly and carries the same meaning.
Namaste is derived from Sanskrit and is a combination of two words, "Namaḥ" and "te." Namaḥ means 'bow,' 'obeisance,' 'reverential salutation' or 'adoration' and te means 'to you' (dative case of 'you'). Therefore, Namaste literally means "salutations to you." 'Namaskar' is derived from Sanskrit and is a combination of the two words, "Namaḥ" and "kaar." As noted above, "Namaḥ" is a salutation. "Kaar" means 'form' or 'shape' and refers to the phenomenon that the other entity (person) presents. Thus, the older salutation essentially means "I salute [your] form," which implies an understanding that all beings in this existence are part of the surface phenomenology of Maya and that beyond the surface, so to say, all beings are part of Brahman, or the One ultimate essence that underlies, and is, all. In the same light, 'Namah' originates from a benevolent unselfishness or admission ("salutation") of unity in One essence, and, therefore, 'Namaste' can also be interpreted (roughly) as a way of saying "Not-myself to you" (a benevolent expression of both respect and impersonality).
In India, Namaste is a friendly greeting in written communication, or generally between people when they meet. When used at funerals to greet the guests, the verbal part is usually omitted. When the hand position is higher, it usually means reverence for worship. Thus, The expression with hands placed on top of one's head is usually the sign of utmost reverence or respect.
In Nepalese culture, namaste is performed when a younger family member meets older relatives. It also varies depending upon social status and prestige. The person with lower status or prestige performs namaste first to show respect for the higher station the other person has achieved.It is also performed for praying and worshiping god.
In Sikh scripture, Namaste, Namastung or Namastvung is referenced as salutation to the Primal being, the One God. The salutation is followed by an attribute respecting a quality of the creator of all religions, Akal. Sikhs also fold their hand as in Namaste, but their greeting is Sat Sri Akal.
In Telugu culture, the gesture is known as "Namaskaramulu" or simply "Namaskaram," which are derived from Sanskrit.
In Tamil culture, the gesture is known as Kumpiṭu (கும்பிடு), which is composed of two words Kumpu (கும்பு) meaning 'to coup hands' and Iṭu இடு meaning 'to do'; while an equivalent of the salutation would be வணக்கம் (vaṇakkam) which is roughly translated as 'greetings.'
In Thai Culture, the greeting is alternately known as the Wai.
In Buddhism, Namaste is used as a greeting to approach ordained monks and nuns, since it is considered inappropriate for ordained members to touch skin. In Chinese Buddhism, especially in the Pure Land traditions, Namaste is accompanied with the greeting "Namo Amitofo" (Homage to Amitabha Buddha) to signify the meaning "May the Buddha be with you." This is also a form of thanking the ordained for services rendered. Namaste does not necessarily have to be performed with both hands. For example, if one is carrying an object in one hand, one may perform a half-namaste with one hand. A Namaste, Namaskaar or Namaskaaram greeting is never offered without the gesture. It is considered impolite, especially in South Indian Culture to use the greeting without the gesture.
The American comedian and musician Reggie Watts says "Namaste" on stage as both a salutation and a valediction in some of his performances.
Meanings and interpretation 
As it is most commonly used, namaste is roughly equivalent to "greetings" or "good day," in English, implicitly with the connotation "to be well". As opposed to shaking hands, kissing or embracing each other in other cultures, Namaste is a non-contact form of respectful greeting and can be used universally while meeting a person of different gender, age or social status.
The gesture Namaste represents the belief that there is a Divine spark within each of us that is located in the heart chakra. The gesture is an acknowledgment of the soul in one by the soul in another. In Sanskrit the word is namah + te = namaste (Devnagari/Hindi: नमः + ते = नमस्ते) which means “I bow to you” – my greetings, salutations or prostration to you.
Namaskār (Devnagari/Hindi: नमस्कार) literally means "I bow to [your] form".
See also 
- Chatterjee, Gautam (2001), Sacred Hindu Symbols, Google books, pp. 47–48.
- "Cologne Digital Sanskrit Lexicon", Cologne Digital Sanskrit Dictionaries (search results), University of Cologne, retrieved March 24, 2012.
- "Mysterious Nagas", Khandro.
- Korean studies 8. University Press of Hawaii. 1984. p. 44.
- Civattampi, Kārttikēcu (1995). Sri Lankan Tamil society and politics. New Century. p. 25.
- Civacaṅkari, Knit India Through Literature: The South, Eastwest.
- Deacon, James (2003), Gassho: Placing the Two Palms Together, AETW.
- "Basics", Yoga Journal.
- "What is Namaste", Hinduism, About.
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- Koul, Omkar N (2003-08-10). Modes of Greetings in Kashmiri (PDF). Indian Institute of Language Studies.
- Kumar, Nitin. "Namaste – The Significance of a Yogic Greeting". Exotic India. Retrieved 9 March 2012.
- Greenwood, Chad (Fall 1997), "Ancient Indus Valley Seal print showing namaste/anjali mudra", Economics of the Indus valley civilisation, CSU Chico.