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Table of Contents
Year : 2020  |  Volume : 69  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 65-66

Namaste: The traditional indian way of greeting goes global during coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic

1 Department of Paedodontics and Preventive Dentistry, Santosh Dental College, Ghaziabad, Delhi-NCR, New Delhi, India
2 Medicine and Life Sciences, Springer Nature, New Delhi, India
3 Department of Anatomy, Kasturba Medical College Mangalore, MAHE, Karnataka, India

Date of Submission28-Apr-2020
Date of Acceptance09-May-2020
Date of Web Publication30-Jun-2020

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Vishram Singh
OC-5/103, 1st Floor, Orange County Society, Ahinsa Khand-I, Indirapuram, Ghaziabad, Uttar Pradesh - 201 014
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/JASI.JASI_76_20

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How to cite this article:
Singh R, Singh G, Singh V. Namaste: The traditional indian way of greeting goes global during coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic. J Anat Soc India 2020;69:65-6

How to cite this URL:
Singh R, Singh G, Singh V. Namaste: The traditional indian way of greeting goes global during coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic. J Anat Soc India [serial online] 2020 [cited 2023 Mar 26];69:65-6. Available from: https://www.jasi.org.in/text.asp?2020/69/2/65/288676

Namaste is an expression of goodwill and welcome to each other. There are various ways of greetings in different countries and cultures; however, the common one's are Namaste, handshake, and bowing forward.

The Namaste is a customary Hindu greeting in the Indian subcontinent, Southeast Asia, and Indian Diaspora, worldwide.[1]

Although this way of greeting is in existence since the ancient Vedic times, recently it grabbed the attention of the whole world due to rampant spread of coronavirus disease by physical contact, leading to huge toll of deaths across the geographies.

The Namaste is spoken with a slight bow of head and hands pressed together with palms touching and fingers pointing upwards and thumbs facing towards the chest of the person greeting, as in worship pose [Figure 1].
Figure 1: “Namaste pose” – the traditional Indian way of greeting

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The other person also responds in the same fashion. The literal meaning of term Namaste is ”I bow to the divine in you”. Thus, it is an attempt to unite the spiritual oneness among two people.

Since in this form of greeting, there is no physical contact. It reduces the chance of infection which could otherwise spread in the hospital and community environment. There is enough scientific evidence that microorganisms spread through the hands of patients, their relatives, and healthcare workers.[2]

The WHO had advised that hygiene is the first pillar of safety to patients.[2] It had been noted that hands get frequently contaminated with various microorganisms such as fecal bugs due to improper cleaning and nasal and oral droplets containing pathogens (bacteria and viruses) due to sneezing and coughing; further infection from hands is transferred to the door knobs, tables, and other surfaces you touch.

In many countries such as the United States of America, European countries, Russia, and Nigeria, handshake is the preferred way for greeting other people. During handshake, one clasps the hand of a person to be greeted, often giving a brief but firm up and down shakes [Figure 2].
Figure 2: “Handshake” – the traditional Western way of greeting

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Since during handshake, there is physical contact when two persons greet each other. This makes them prone to spread the infection among each other, which may lead to epidemic and even pandemic in the community. However, in the present era of emergence and re-emergence of various viruses, it is time to rethink about the form and manner of greeting so that unnecessary physical contact could be avoided. This along with regular handwashing with soap and water will play a great role in preventing the spread of infection in hospital and community settings.[3] Similarly, bowing forward to greet a person with some distance which is widely practiced by Japanese, Chinese, Tibetans, Koreans, Burmese, Indonesians, Vietnamese, Cambodians, and other descendants of yellow race is another foolproof way to maintain social distance and prevent spread of infection by physical contact.

The guidelines of the WHO to control the swine flu, influenza (by H1N1 virus) more or less pandemic in 2010 also include hand hygiene.[4]

Recently, due to rampant spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) and huge toll of deaths, it caused across the geographies. Many world leaders felt that by shaking the hands with people who carry the microbes of coronavirus on their hands is a sure way of contacting corona infection.

Since in Namaste, there is no physical touching of the other person while greeting. There is no risk of contracting COVID-19 infection from other person.

As a result, the traditional Indian way of greeting, i.e., Namaste, has now grabbed the attention of world leaders as a potentially safe way of greeting people.

Recently, not only Indian leaders but also world leaders such as Mr. Donald Trump, the President of the United States of America, Mr. Prince Charles of the United Kingdom, and Mr. Benzamin Netanyahu chose Namaste to greet the people.[5],[6],[7] WHO official greeted Dr. Harsh Vardhan (Health and Family Welfare Minister of India) with 'Namaste' as he took charge as its Executive Board Chairman.

  Conclusion Top

Namaste, the traditional Indian way of greeting, is safe as it is not going to contract the infection from the person you are greeting and simultaneously can also follow social distancing of your comfort. On the other hand, shaking of hands with people who carry microorganisms in their hands is surely going to reduce the interpersonal distance to hazardous level and transfer the disease to you which, during the epidemic or pandemic, may cost dear to the whole nation and the entire world. Therefore, if you think that shaking hands is a friendly gesture toward each other, think again as it can be a serious life-threatening bargain. The Namaste could be the better option as it reduces the chances of spread of infection among community.

  References Top

Singh KV. Hindus Rites and Rituls: Origins and Meanings. Penguin Book; 2015. p. 123-4. Archived from the Original on; 17 December, 2019. [Last accessed on 2017 May 20].  Back to cited text no. 1
WHO Guidelines on Hand Hygiene in Healthcare. Available from: https://www.who.int/gpsc/5may/tools/9789241597906/en/. [Last accessed on 2020 Apr 25].  Back to cited text no. 2
Bhattacharya S, Singh A. Namaste!! Greet the Indian way: Reduce the chance of infections in the hospitals and community. CHRISMED J Health Res 2019;6:77-8.  Back to cited text no. 3
  [Full text]  
Swine Flu Precautions. Available from: http//www.svede.org/swi mefluprecautions.php. [Last accessed on 2020 Apr 25].  Back to cited text no. 4
Namaste Trump. Available from: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/N amaste_Trump. [Last accessed on 2020 Apr 25].  Back to cited text no. 5
Prince Charles Ditched Handshake and Greeted People with Namaste; 12 March, 2020. Available from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WE5-WijkqIg. [Last accessed on 2020 Apr 25].  Back to cited text no. 6
Benjamin Netanyahu Encourages 'Namaste' Greeting in Place of Handshakes during Corona Virus Outbreak; 5 March, 2020. Available from: https://www.newsweek.com/benjamin-net anyahu-encourages-namaste-gr eeting-place-handshakes-dur ing-coronavirus-outbreak-1490622. [Last accessed on 2020 Apr 25].  Back to cited text no. 7


  [Figure 1], [Figure 2]

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