The world is shrinking and cultures are coming closer. With so many of us living on this planet and sharing its resources, our paths are bound to cross every now and then. As such, it is important to understand how we are different, yet alike, vis-à-vis our traditions. The most fundamental of all things is to understand how people respectfully greet each other when they meet. So, regardless of whether you are going international or just curious, here is what you need to know about the different greetings from around the world. Read on.
The classic bow is a way to greet people in many Asian countries, like India, Japan, Cambodia and Thailand. While in India, you fold your hands and put your palms together and bow, in Japan you show respect by bending a little bit more — as the further you bend, the more respect you are believed to show. While the Japanese men bow with their hands on their sides, women place them on their thighs. Nowadays, even a simple nod is becoming the generational norm in most of these countries.
Showing respect to elders
In countries like India, it is believed that a person who is elder to you is to be shown reverence. As such, it is largely expected that you touch their feet and seek their blessings. While some western countries may find this tradition pretty amusing, it is very much prevalent. In countries like the Philippines, an older person is shown respect when a younger person takes their hand to press it gently on their forehead. In some African countries (read: Liberia) young people drop down to their knees to honour their elders.
Sticking the tongue out
This unique way of greeting people has to do with the Tibetan community that blames an evil king for this. It is believed that this tradition began with the monks, who would stick their tongues out, so as to show that they come bearing peace, and are not really the reincarnation of a certain cruel 9th-century king who, it was believed, had a black tongue.
This might seem funny to you, but in New Zealand, specifically in the Maori tribe, people greet each other by rubbing their faces together, so as to ‘share their breath’. This is thought of as a gesture of welcome, and an initiation into the Maori tribe and its culture. But remember, it is an honour which is not extended to everyone.
Clapping of hands
Can you imagine clapping at someone so as to greet them hello? In Zimbabwe, one person claps and the other person responds by clapping twice. While the men clap with their fingers and palms aligned, the women clap with their hands at a certain angle.
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