Namaste, sometimes spoken as Namaskar, Namaskaram or Vanakkam, is a respectful form of greeting in Hindu custom, found on the Indian Subcontinent mainly in Nepal and India and among the Indian diaspora. It is used both for salutation and valediction. Namaste is usually 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 Mudr? or Pranamasana. In Hinduism it means “I bow to the divine in you”.The greeting may also be spoken without the gesture or the gesture performed wordlessly, carrying the same meaning.
Etymology, meaning and origins
Namaste (Namas + te) is derived from Sanskrit and is a combination of the word nama? and theenclitic 2nd person singular pronoun te. The word nama? takes the Sandhi form namas before the sound t.
Nama? means ‘bow’, ‘obeisance’, ‘reverential salutation’ or ‘adoration’ and te means ‘to you’. Therefore, Namaste literally means “bowing to you”.
A less common variant is used in the case of three or more people being addressed namely Namo va? which is a combination of nama? and the enclitic 2nd person plural pronoun va?. The word nama? takes the Sandhi form namo before the sound v.
An even less common variant is used in the case of two people being addressed, namely, Namo v?m, which is a combination of nama? and the enclitic 2nd person dual pronoun v?m.
Excavations for Indus 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.
The gesture is widely used throughout India, Nepal, parts of Asia and beyond where people of South Asian origins have migrated. 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 asTaittiriya Upanishad, as Atithi Devo Bhav (literally, the guest is god).
Namaste is one of the six forms of pranama, and in parts of India these terms are used synonymously.
In the Hindi and Nepalese speaking populations of South Asia, both Namaste and Namaskar are synonymously used. In Nepal, people generally use Namaskar for greeting and respecting their elders. In Telugu, Namaste is also known as Dhandamu or namaskaram for singular and Dhandaalu or namaskaralu for plural form. pranamamu is also used in formal Telugu . In Bengali, the Namaste gesture is expressed as N?m?shkar, and said as Pr?näm informally. In Assamese, Nômôskar is used. In Tamil, Namaste is known as Kumpi?u, which is composed of two words kumpu meaning ‘to cup hands’ and itu meaning ‘to do’.0