Indian Culture

Greetings

  • In many parts of India and during formal occasions, it is common for people to greet with the traditional Hindu greeting of “Namaste” (‘I greet the divine within you’). This is accompanied with a nod of the head or a bow depending on the status of the person you are greeting.
  • A common gesture when greeting is pressing the palms together with the fingertips facing upwards (i.e. in a prayer position). This greeting is sometimes accompanied with a slight bow.
  • Verbal greetings vary between regions and also differ depending on people’s relationships. For example, a common Gujarati greeting is “Kem cho”, (‘How are you?’).
  • Muslims may greet by shaking the hand of their counterpart accompanied by the phrase, “Salaam”. 
  • It is generally appropriate for men and women to shake hands. However, it is advisable to wait for a woman to extend her hand first. Some Muslim or Hindu men and women may not wish to touch a person of the opposite gender.
  • Avoid greeting someone with a hug or a kiss unless you know the person well.
  • Indians expect people to greet the eldest or most senior person first. When greeting elders, some Indians may reach down and touch the ground or the elder’s feet as a sign of respect.
  • It is advisable to address people by their title (Mr, Mrs, etc.) and last name until they have indicated that you may move on to a first-name basis.
  • It is common to add the gender-neutral honorific suffix ‘-ji’ onto a first name to show respect towards a person, a group or inanimate objects (for example, ‘Madhavji’).
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