Namaste is postured to perfection body language with hands pressed together, palms touching and fingers pointing upwards, thumbs close to the chest. This gesture is called Añjali Mudrā or Pranamasana. In Hinduism it means "I bow to the divine in you". Namaste is derived from Sanskrit and is a combination of the word namaḥ and te.
Namaḥ means 'bow', 'obeisance', 'reverential salutation' or 'adoration' and te means 'to you'. Therefore, Namaste literally means "bowing to you". Translated roughly, it means "I bow to the God within you", or "The Spirit within me salutes the Spirit in you" - a knowing that we are all made from the same One Divine Consciousness. Excavations for Indus civilization have revealed many male and female terracotta figures in Namaste posture. These archeological findings are dated to be between 3000 BC to 2000 BC.
Pressing hands together with a smile to greet Namaste – a common cultural practice in India, is also widely used throughout Nepal, parts of Asia and beyond where people of South and Southeast Asian origins have migrated. But now after we moved to the U.S. to spend our retirement years with our son and daughter-in-law, settled here, I observes that in the past few years, namaste has reinvented itself. And the widely spreading love for Yoga here gets a lot of the credit (or blame). You go to any yoga class and you’ll hear the teacher say Namaste with her hands joined in front of her, elbows sticking out. Her namaste sounds different from the one we know in India - the Americanized "nahm-ahs-tay." They don't think of it just as a greeting, but a spiritual connotation — a Hindu mantra, a divine chant, a yoga salutation. As per the yoga guru, it allows all to come together to a place of connection, oneness and timelessness. “Namaste” is a word in which a deep union between spirits can form and a way yoga practitioners can connect to their yogic lineage. “Namaste, everybody. ‘Namaste’ is a Sanskrit word that means ‘The divine in me recognizes the divine in you.’ — A benediction, delivered by yoga instructors at the end of practice. “Attention, yogis! PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE! Close this door behind you!!! Namaste!!! The Management.” —Sign on the front door.
As yoga is gaining popularity day by day, so is the popularity of ‘namaste’ increasing everywhere. Here is an example: Since 2004, Namaste Charter School has combined health and wellness with academic rigor in a peaceful environment, paving the way for an innovative, successful new model of urban education that is now being adopted in schools across the country. “We are proud of Namaste’s incredible successes as we have grown from just 90 Kindergarten and first graders our first year to 480 students today,” boasts with pride the Principal. However, too much popularity of yoga in another school brought a backlash ending in the Principal issuing apology to parents:
A note from the principal at Bullard Elementary School said, "I am truly sorry that the mindfulness/de-stressing practices here at Bullard caused many misconceptions that in turn created a distraction in our community."Those distractions include some parents criticizing the yoga instruction, especially making ‘namaste’ as an important part of the yoga, via public Facebook pages, saying the practice has religious overtones.
This could be taken as an exceptional case, as by and large ‘namaste’ is being increasingly used not only in yoga classes but all over by naming new businesses “Namaste……..”, for example Namaste Plaza, Namaste Pizza and so on. This reminds me of some Bollywood producers also cashing on the popularity of ‘namaste’ by titles such as “Namaste London” and “Salaam Namaste”, both movies box-office bonanzas. And now comes “Namaste Bollywood” at Playhouse Theater, Bangko. “Ranging from heart thumping solos to jaw dropping acts, Namaste Bollywood dance repertoire includes performances with Bollywood's biggest stars in mainstream Bollywood movies, regional Indian films, popular television shows, as well as global events”, claim the producers while promoting the show.