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How to Say Hello in Hindi

Greetings for India, the Meaning of Namaste, and the Indian Head Wobble


Indian woman

Would you know how to say hello in Hindi to this woman?

Photo by Greg Rodgers

More than a thousand languages and dialects are spoken across the Indian subcontinent, however, Standard Hindi and English are considered the two official languages. Knowing how to say hello in Hindi will be useful throughout your travels in this part of Asia.

Saying Hello in Hindi

The most common, universal greeting to use in India is: Namaste (sounds like 'nah-meh-stay').

Namaste is of Hindi origin, however, it is used widely throughout India and the world. Greetings in India are not based around the time of day as they are in Bahasa Indonesian. Although namaste began as a way to show respect, it is now used as a common greeting between strangers and friends of all age and status.

A friendly namaste is often offered with the hands together in a prayer-like gesture, similar but lower than the Thai wai. The hands should be in front of the chest, symbolically indicating the heart chakra. A very slight bow of the head shows additional respect.

The Meaning of Namaste

Namaste comes from the Sanskrit words namah te -- literally: "I bow to you."

The first part of the greeting -- na ma -- means 'not mine'. In other words, you are reducing your ego or putting yourself second to the person with whom you are greeting.

The Indian Head Wobble

The famous Indian head wobble is not easy to do or understand at first, but you'll quickly catch on! The unique gesture is used for everything from 'OK' and 'I understand' to 'yes' and 'thank you'. The head wobble is used as a silent way in some parts of India to say hello or to acknowledge another's presence.

The meaning of the Indian head wobble depends entirely on the context of the situation or question asked.

Read more about the Indian head wobble.

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