Among all the countries in Asia, India can be placed among the top 2 or 3 most traditional country. We will first start out slowly with India. In this article, I will cover the greeting customs in India. According to psychologists, the first impression you have of a person never changes 95% of the time. For that reason I feel this is a very important subject.
If you have already travelled to India before, then you know about the customs of "Namaste," the traditional greeting in India. The meaning of "Namaste" is "I bow to (respect) that whats good in you." This gesture consists of pressing both palms together and placing them at chest level.
After your palms are in place, you should follow it with a slight nod of your head. Now, the slight nod is different from a bow. Bowing is only for the Japanese or Chinese, but India does not require you to do it. As a matter of fact, you should never bow.
"Namaste" is a common opening line.It is used to start a conversation and does not constitute to good morning, good afternoon, or good night. 'Hi' is used as the greeting among youngsters due to western influence. Also, Namaste is used to show respect to elders. Generally, you do not need to use "Namaste" when you are greeting friend or sibling.
You may ask, "Do I have to say anything while doing this?" I would answer "Yes, depending on whom you are talking to." For example, if you are talking to a person that is Hindu, then you should said "Namaste." Also, if the person you are talking to is Sikh, then your reply is "Sat Sri Akal." However, generally Muslim do not use "Namaste," because they do not like the idea of bowing to anyone other than "Almighty Allah." So, it is proper to say Nameste and expect them to reply with "Salem Aleikum."
As another sign of respect, Hindu people like to attach the word "Sahib" or "Ji" to a person name. "Sahib" can be use for both male and female, which means boss or high ranked person. For example, let's say your name is John, your assistant may address you as "John-Sahib."
"Ji" is also used throughout India to show respect for both male and female. Normally, "Ji" is used to address the elder and it is considered extremely rude to refer to an elder with using "Ji."
When addressing someone, you should never use his/her first name unless he or she is a close friend. Always remember to use Mr., Miss, or Mrs. when talking to somebody who is superior to you. Using a title in this case such as professor, doctor, sir, or madam is a must.
Right now, you are probably saying, "How do I know who is who, everyone looks Indian to me?" Well, my reply is depending on who you see eat more curry. I'm just kidding (my Indian friend will kill me for making a joke like that hehe).
The most common ways to find out are by the last names and the cloth they wear. Hindu people tend to have one of these last names: Das, Sen, Roy, Patel, and Rao. You can easily identified the Hindu women because of the colourful Sarees they like to wear. However, the Hindu men costumes are harder to identify. Their cloths are depending on the location they are living in. Example, in the south, you may find Hindu men wear "lungi."
As for Muslims, the most common names for men are: Muhammed, Ali, Hussein, and Khan. For women, they have Jan added to the end of their name. Muslim can be identified with the round cap on the men head and women with Hijab on(a black or white full length gown). Lastly, Sikhs peole generally carry Singh or "Gill" as their last name . And, if you want to identify whether a person is Sikh or not, then you should look for the turban on his head or a metal bracelet on his right arm. Most religious and traditional Sikhs will wear one of these items. As for women, they are likely to wear Punjabi dress.