Namaste (// NAH-məs-tay; Hindi: [nəməsteː] ( )), sometimes expressed as Namaskar or Namaskaram, is a customary greeting when individuals meet or farewell. It is a form of greeting commonly found among people of South Asia, 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 good byes as well. It is typically spoken and simultaneously performed with 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 "Namaḥ" and the enclitic 2nd person singular pronoun "te". The word "Namaḥ" takes the Sandhi form "Namas" before the sound "t".
In principle Namas te is to be used only when a single person is addressed (since in Sanskrit "te" is singular).
A less common variant is used in the case of three or more people being addressed namely Namo vaḥ which is a combination of "Namaḥ" and the enclitic 2nd person plural pronoun "vaḥ". The word "Namaḥ" takes the Sandhi form "Namo" before the sound "v".
Excavations for Indus-Sarasvati civilization have revealed many male and female terracotta figures in namaste posture. These archeological findings are dated to be between 3000 BC to 2000 BC.
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's 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 one 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).
Regional variations in Namaste gesture
In Bengali , the namaste gesture is expressed as Nōmōskär, (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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- Koul, Omkar N (2003-08-10). Modes of Greetings in Kashmiri (PDF). Indian Institute of Language Studies.
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