The COVID-19 virus has a ‘novel’ prefix attached to it! And this ‘novel’ has surely transformed our lives upside down! With new social distancing etiquettes to follow, all of us need to know as to why we do namaste in India as a tradition.
This new COVID era has many new things in store for all of us. The game of evolution will never stop. Neither we should ‘bow down’ before these challenging times. The ability to adapt as per situation is that unique quality that has nurtured the story of our species. As my business professor also used to say, ‘Change is the only constant’.
“It’s not the strongest of species which will survive, neither the mightiest but the one who is adaptive to change.”– Charles Darwin.
Our social rules have changed. The British newspaper, ‘The Guardian’ has pronounced the ‘End of the Handshake’ amidst the COVID-19 crisis. Likewise, the WIRED too has published a story that the Coronavirus could put an end to the handshakes.
So, then what’s the modern way to greet and show respect?
In Bengali, it is called ‘NOMOSHKAR’. In Malayalam, it is called ‘NAMASKARAM’. And in pure Hindi, it is called ‘Namaste’.
This ancient Indian gesture involves folding your hands and bowing before your guest or relative as an adoring sign of respect. This is a simple yet elegant way to show respect to others while you follow social distancing norms in this COVID era.
As we unfold as to why we do namaste, many traditional greetings in Asia have adopted their own greeting styles similar to that of Namaste:
- Johar or Juhar: This greeting style is used among the tribal communities of Jharkhand.
2. Thai Wai: This greeting style, which is prevalent in Thailand, seems to be a combination of Indian Namaste and the Japanese bow.
3. Sampeah: It is a Cambodian style of greeting which is very similar to Thai Wai.
In some traditions, the style of greeting a Namaste seems to have a way of circling back with warm greetings. From a safe distance of course! ??
Why we do Namaste- A Brief Overview
The early mentions of the term Namaste comes from the ancient Indian text, Rig Veda which was composed between 1700-1100 BC. The term is derived from the Sanskrit language, which is the mother of all Indian languages. Hence, we find many versions of Namaste, both in word-form and in practice in different parts of our country.
If we try to study the word-form or etymology of the term Namaste, find that Namaste (नमस्ते) is formed by joining two words:
‘NAMAS’ (नमस्): Which means to ‘Bow’, ‘Adore’ or ‘salute’.
‘TE’ (ते) : Which means ‘To you’.
This makes the literal meaning of the word Namaste as ‘Bowing to you’. ?
There have been instances in History when some ignorant minds have tried to belittle the majesty of Namaste. Some English Scholars have attached this elegant Indian practice to be a symbol of untouchability and casteism and shunned its use in daily life.
But the Time clearly showcased the elegance of our Ancient Tradition.
All the nations of the world have agreed today that Namaste is the new way to greet as western styles of greetings have proven to be dangerous for health. That’s the reason as to why we do namaste in India as a tradition to greet others with respect.
In short, the Novel virus wants ‘Namaste’ to be a chapter in its greetings book. So, what’s the harm! A happy Namaste to all my readers! Maintain social distancing and keep yourself connected with us.
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