With a namaste, touch the hearts : The Tribune India

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With a namaste, touch the hearts

With a namaste,  touch the hearts

Photo for representation. File photo



Ritu Kamra Kumar

THE other day, my nephew came home. He had been living in Canada for almost a decade before family commitments made him return to India. He always greets me with a hug, saying ‘hello, maasi’ with a wide smile. But this time, he greeted everyone with a namaste. When asked why, he said he missed the warmth of namaste abroad and believed that this word expressed reverence for the person he greeted.

I was transported to the times when, as kids, we used to wish our teachers with folded hands and a namaste; later, it became ‘good morning’ and, finally, ‘hello ma’am’. Among family and friends, it was ‘hello, aunty’ or ‘morning, uncle’. While I appreciate all these forms of greetings, I think the culture of namaste ingrained in the Indian sensibility is more than just a casual greeting. It is a gesture transfixed in the rich tapestry of tradition and imbued with spiritual significance.

Namaste transcends a cursory hello; it embodies a connection with oneself, with the others and the universe. Namaste finds a mention in the Vedas. It is a combination of two Sanskrit words: namah, which means ‘bow’, and te, which means ‘to you’. Hence, it translates to ‘I bow to you’ or ‘the divine in me bows to the divine in you.’ Namaskara is more polite, as kara means ‘making’ or ‘doing’. Combined with namah, it means ‘showing reverence’.

The gesture is also an integral part of Indian classical dance forms, religious rituals, yoga, auspicious ceremonies and spiritual practices.

In 1985, during my sister’s marriage, my brother-in-law’s paternal uncle instructed the bride and groom to greet each other with folded hands before the ‘Jai Mala’ ceremony. Pin-drop silence followed the request. The uncle explained that namaste in the ‘anjali mudra’ (the prayer pose) was a symbolic gesture; the pressing of palms together in front of the heart, accompanied by a slight bow of the head, had spiritual significance. It was a powerful tool for fostering respect and understanding in a diverse and inter-connected world, a way of creating a spiritual connection between souls, he said. Then, not only the bride and groom but everyone also greeted each other with a namaste. The moment was crystallised in many photographs.

As the world has become a global village, the age-old gesture of namaste has found a place in the hearts of some political leaders and statesmen. They are using it to bridge the cultural divide. I believe we can’t hold love in our hands, but we can make someone feel it in the heart by just folding our hands and saying namaste. It is a great way of expressing our love, friendship, gratitude and respect to the people we meet.

#Canada


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