Shaking hands for western culture, Namasthe for Indian culture – hygienic side..
March 10, 2012 4:29am CST
Recently I had a chance to hear a speech of our old college mate there, one of my friend now in United States noticed that most of people shake hand there as part of being friendly. Moreover people their use fork or spoons to eat food; they rarely use their bare fingers or hands. It is also noticed that after one covers hands after squeezing, coughing etc and same hand is also given for hand shaking. In India most common culture of showing friendly is by giving a Namasthe (join two hand as a gesture to show respect, friendliness and warmness from the person who do so) which is becoming rare. Indians majority use their bare hands and fingers to eat the food. The hands would be much clean if they have not taken any dirt with it. Moreover Indian most washes their hands before they have food. I feel now the culture at times changes and hand shaking is common in India too. Also Namasthe is accepting by other part of world too. But I could see that Japanese would be giving a bow with their body as a part of being friendly may be that would be much hygienic.
• Puerto Rico
10 Mar 12
I totally agree with you, that's why I rarely shake hands with anyone. In here shaking hands is also common, but it's mostly used when business is involved, like in a work interview for example. In a less formal environment people just raise their hands from far away in an "hey" way. If someone is kinda close people just slap hands in a "high five" way but not high (maybe low five? :p). It's not like its better, but at least you have less contact :). Nowadays I mostly nod, in recognition to their presence, or smile if they are close to me but since I don't work outside anymore it's been a while since I had to shake hands with anyone. In here we use forks and spoons, but it is recommended to wash your hands anyway since there is always some part of the food you touch, like grabbing the chicken or the plantains, etc. But you are right, touching other people's hands is disgusting. Although one can live with it if they are really close, which is what business people try to emulate by shaking hands.
13 Mar 12
Hello Sham, Shaking hands is common in India too, but in India there is gender discrimination, I mean, in case of a male and a female meets then mostly they prefer to use the ‘namaste’ gesture than shaking hands. But I must say, when people meet and shake their hands, ever anybody think all these things, like sneeze or hygiene. Mostly all of us think to give a warm welcome apt to our culture. However, I agree your views, in India people used to wash their hands before eating food. (Personally I have the habit of washing my hands when reaching home from outside. But I don’t have the habit of shaking hands, lol). Of course bowing down is the best way to show the respect and good for hygienically.
• United States
11 Mar 12
Hi Shamrack! When I was in Japan, it was customary not to touch. We do actually shake hands in greeting and sometimes, depending on the relationship, a hug. Now as far as the coughing..people are supposed to cover their mouths but the cough is supposed to go in a tissue held..lol. That doesn't always happen but the truth is there is so much darn antibacterial stuff everywhere that it's a wonder we don't have more super bugs than we do. When we go to the grocery store here, there are antibacterial wipes on the wall to use on your shopping cart before you touch it. I eat some food with my hands but we are taught to eat with silverware. I love learning about other cultures and I like the way you describe Namasthe.
9 Apr 12
Yes, customs are different in different parts of the world. People greet each other different based on where they are from. I also agree that most people in India are getting used to the handshake in place of Namasthe. But I've taught my kids to say Namasthe.Since they are raised at Bangalore where handshake is more common, I encourage them to do Namasthe at Kerala when we visit or to friends at Bangalore who will appreciate it.