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Archive for September, 2010

Meaning of Namaste


Indians greet each other with namaste. The two palms are placed together in front of the chest and the head bows whilst saying the word namaste. This greeting is for all – people younger than us, of our own age, those older than us, friends, even strangers.

Namaste could be just a casual or formal greeting, a cultural convention or an act of worship. However there is much more to it than meets the eye. In Sanskrit namah + te = namaste. It means – I bow to you – my greetings, salutations or prostration to you.  Namah = to bow, te = you

The spiritual meaning is even deeper. The life force, the divine energy in each body that keeps us alive, is the same in everyone. We are not just bowing to the other person, but to the life force energy/ soul that the other person is.

When we know this significance, our greeting does not remain just a superficial gesture or word but paves the way for a deeper communion with another in an atmosphere of love and respect.

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Have you ever wondered why the women of India wear the little red dot on their forehead?

Pronounced Bin Dee, the word bindi is derived from the Sanskrit word bindu, which means “drop”. There are two common meanings of bindi throughout India.

The point between the eyebrows is very significant for the human body. By applying a little pressure there, we activate the hypothalamus/ pituitary gland. This in turn has a positive effect on the entire nervous system. Therefore, the traditional red dot can be seen on men and women alike. When visiting a temple, it is common for the priest to mark, men, women and children with this mark using his finger. By applying sandalwood paste on that point, the entire nervous system is cooled. And since women are more emotional than men, it was more important for women to apply bindi.

The second historical and cultural significance of bindi is as a social symbol, very similar to western wedding bands. Bindis were worn by married women in the form of a little red dot. Red was chosen because that color was supposed to bring good fortune into the home of the bride. Widows often wore black bindis or no bindis at all.

Over time, they also became a fashion accessory and changed in shape and colors.

In the past few decades, not only married women have taken up this beautiful accessory. Girls of all ages enjoy wearing a variety of styles and colors. Today, these little gems are often matched with the color clothing a person is wearing. It is a must with sari, salwar kameez or other Indian dresses.

In addition to the bindi, in India, a vermilion mark in the parting of the hair just above the forehead is worn by married women as a symbol of their married status. During all Hindu marriage ceremonies, the groom applies sindoor on the parting in the bride’s hair.

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