The corona has coronated namaste. Yes, this Indian greeting is now the best and the most preferred greeting the world over. Fearing contagious physical contact even Heads of States have adopted our namaste. WhatsApp is full of clips of Donald Trump, Prince Charles, Emmanuel Macron and others greeting people with folded hands!  Namaste has been the normal greeting in India since time immemorial. It recognises the need to respect the personal hygiene of all. So with one swift coup the corona has dethroned the jhappis, the kisses and even the formal sweaty or bony handshakes. The word namaste is formed by a joining of two Sanskrit words, “namah” (I bow with humility) and “te” (to you). It is a gesture that accepts the divinity in every being and therefore bows to the other in reverence. The joining of the two palms means different things in different contexts. It is a greeting, a welcome, or even a goodbye! Now with our ever growing dictionary of emoticons, the namaste is used to depict myriad emotions. On WhatsApp it can mean “hello”, it can mean “thanks”, it can mean “forgive me”, “acceptance”, “reverence”, “worship”, “conceding”, “agreement”, “yes, I understand”, “sorry”, “please”, “thank you”, “I respect you”, “obediently yours”, or even “on the same page”. Strongly joined hands could also mean: “I’ve had enough, please leave me.” If both hands are almost slapped together noisily and raised to the forehead, it could mean “Oh God! I’ve never seen the likes of you before!”

The more meaningful and deeper significance of the gesture is that when two palms join, the person is conveying to the other: “We are equally divine, let us come together in love and friendship like the identically equal palms and fingers of my two hands. Let us therefore live love and work together, recognising each other’s boundaries and individualities yet coming together in human brotherhood for peace and harmony.”

Prarthna Saran, President Chinmaya Mission Delhi, can be contacted at prarthnasaran@gmail.com

 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*

*

*