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This is one of India’s gifts to the world—our popular method or custom of greeting. The picture above depicts the paraphernalia of so doing. The gesture involves folded-hands and a beaming smile done with heartfelt love for one’s fellow humankind. It may even be followed with an embrace but never a kiss, which is publicly denounced, frown upon or treated as contemptuous.

The word namaste or namaskar literally means I bow to you or, more intrinsically put, I bow to the divinity within you. Sometimes it is also accompanied with a quick nod or bowed head (or even an act of genuflection or touching of the person’s feet) as a mark of deep profound respect. But that depends upon the person to whom it is accorded. Good examples are elders, gurus or enlightened souls.

During the covid-19 pandemic when handshake was prohibitive for hygienic reasons, the world cleverly resorted to this form of greetings. I saw leading personalities such as President Donald Trump and British Royalty Prince Philip publicly adhering to this Indian norm or status quo. Even President Obama had publicly done so on several occasions prior to covid-19.   One last point of note if you must peer through the hearts of the Indian personas. We have a cliché or paradigm that states guest is god—atithi devo bhavah to be more precise. It is a Sanskrit phrase taken from our scriptures which forms part of the Indian Code of Conduct and good proprietorial deportment or decorum.

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