While it is true that the diversity among Hindus is mind-boggling and no two Hindus seem to be alike, there are certain traditions and practices that are commonly followed by most of them. You may not be able to define a Hindu but you can spot one by what he or she does.
Hindus greet each other with a namaste, perform poojas, light lamps, wear marks on their foreheads, touch the feet of their elders, consider books sacred…. These are just some of the customs and traditions that have survived the ages. And that is because they serve an important purpose…. that of translating some of the abstract philosophy of Hinduism into the everyday life of a Hindu. I believe it is these customs and traditions that give Hinduism its identity.
In this series of posts I am going to explore the symbolism and significance of some of the common Hindu customs. Starting with a
It is a Hindu tradition to greet each other by joining the palms of our hands as if in prayer, bowing our heads and saying Namaste.
Namaste can be a casual or a formal greeting and may seem like just a cultural convention but it is rich with meaning.
The word namaste in Sanskrit means ‘I bow to you.’
In bowing to the other person we show humility and acceptance of the other person. There is no ego or arrogance in such a meeting. When we join our hands as if in prayer we acknowledge the inherent divinity in the person we are greeting. A gentle reminder that the same Brahman or the one Divine Soul resides in all of us. In essence we are all the same, no matter which country, caste , creed or religion we belong to.
The sages have said that to ‘see’ this unity or ‘oneness’ is to truly understand God.