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Namaste, Namaskar or Pranam - How we greet each other in India.

‘Namaste’ or ‘namaskar’ is the Indian way of greeting each other. Wherever they are – on the street, in the house, in public transport, on vacation or on the phone – when Hindus meet people they know or strangers with whom they want to initiate a conversation, namaste is the customary courtesy greeting to begin with and often to end with. It is not a superficial gesture or a mere word, and is for all people - young and old, friends and strangers.

Meaning of Namaste: The word ‘Namaste’, in Sanskrit, contains two words: ‘Namah’ and ‘te’. ‘te’ means ‘to you’. ‘Namah’ means ’salutations’. Put together it implies ‘my salutations to you’. The Lord dwells in the heart of every human being. This joining of hands symbolizes the meeting of two souls, our real self actually meets Itself. This signifies reverent Salutations and Unity of Souls.

Why Namaste: Namaste could be just a casual or formal greeting, a cultural convention or an act of worship. However, there is much more to it than meets the eye. The real meeting between people is the meeting of their minds. When we greet one another with namaste, it means, ‘may our minds meet’, indicated by the folded palms placed before the chest. The bowing down of the head is a gracious form of extending friendship in love, respect and humility.

Pronounciation: Commonly written "Namaste", it is pronounced as "Namastay" with the first two "a's" as the first "a" in "America" and the "ay" as in "stay", but with the "t" pronounced soft with the area just behind the tip of the tongue pressing against the upper-front teeth with no air passing (as the t in "tamasha").

How to Namaste: Bend the arms from the elbow upwards and face the two palms of the hands. Place the two palms together and keep the folded palms in front of the chest. Utter the word namaste and while saying the word bow the head slightly.

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