Namaste, Namaskar or Namaskaram is a common spoken greeting or salutation in the Indian subcontinent. It is derived from Hinduism, and in India and Nepal it has multi-religious or else common usage where it may simply mean "I bow to you."
The word is derived from Sanskrit (namas): to bow, obeisance, reverential salutation, and (te): "to you" Namaskar is considered a slightly more formal version than Namaste but both express deep respect. It is commonly used in India and Nepal by Hindus, Jains and Buddhists, and many continue to use this outside the Indian subcontinent. Namaste and Namaskar are used commonly in Northern India. However, Namaskara and Namaskaram are used in Southern part of India, instead of Namaste.
When spoken to another person, it is commonly accompanied by a slight bow made with hands pressed together, palms touching and fingers pointed upwards, in front of the chest. This gesture, called Anjali Mudrã, can also be performed wordlessly and carries the same meaning.
In Indian and Nepali culture, the word is spoken at the beginning of written or verbal communication. However, upon departure only the wordless hands-folded gesture is made.
Namaste is one of the few Sanskrit words commonly recognized by Non-Hindi speakers. In the West, it is often used to indicate Indian Hindu culture in general. Namaste is particularly associated with aspects of Hindu culture such asvegetarianism, yoga, ayurvedic healing, and other cultures that are derivatives of Hinduism such as Buddhism and Jainism.
In recent times, and more globally, the term "Namaste" has come to be especially associated with yoga and spiritual meditation all over the world. In this context, it has been viewed in terms of a multitude of very complicated and poetic meanings which tie in with the spiritual origins of the word.