NAMASTE or NAMASKAR is the Indian way of greeting each other. Wherever they are – on the street, in the house, in public transport, on vacation or on the phone – when Hindus meet people they know or strangers with whom they want to initiate a conversation, namaste is the customary courtesy greeting to begin with and often to end with. It is not a superficial gesture or a mere word, and is for all people - young and old, friends and strangers.
Out of respect for women's privacy, men usually do not shake hands with or touch women in public.
Namaste and its common variants ‘namaskar,’ ‘namaskaara’ or ‘namaskaram’, is one of the five forms of formal traditional greeting mentioned in the Vedas. This is normally understood as prostration but it actually refers to paying homage or showing respect to one another, as is the practice today, when we greet each other.
The Namaste is India's traditional greeting. One presses the palms together (fingers up) below thechin and says Namaste (in the south, Namaskaram). For superiors or to show respect, a slight bow isadded
The hands should be in front of the chest, symbolically indicating the heart chakra. A very slight bow of the head shows additional respect.
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 reason why we do namaste has a deeper spiritual significance. It recognizes the belief that the life force, the divinity, the Self or the God in me is the same in all. Acknowledging this oneness with the meeting of the palms, we honor the god in the person we meet.
During prayers, Hindus not only do namaste but also bow and close their eyes, as it were, to look into the inner spirit. This physical gesture is sometimes accompanied by names of gods like ‘Ram Ram’, ‘Jai Shri Krishna’, ‘Namo Narayana’, ‘Jai Siya Ram’ or just ‘Om Shanti’ – the common refrain in Hindu chants. This is also quite common when two devout Hindus meet - indicating the recognition of the divinity within ourselves and extending a warm welcome to each other.