• An owner of a Japanese inn is greeting her female tourists from oversees at the entrance. (E+)
Worried about hugging, kissing and handshaking strangers amid public health warnings? Or just want to opt out of all the touching? Take a leaf out of how other cultures say hello.
By
SBS staff writers

3 Mar 2020 - 10:45 AM  UPDATED 3 Mar 2020 - 12:03 PM

If you are worried about hugging, kissing and handshaking with strangers amid public health warnings about hand washing and virus contracting and stockpiling madness, or just want to opt out of all the touching - take a leaf out of how other cultures say hello. 

1. Hand on heart salaam and adab

Practised in many parts of the Middle East and other Muslim majority countries, the hand on heart salaam is a classic hello greeting that can be used with the opposite sex, to respect their space. Translated into "peace be with you," it is used to communicate goodwill, openness and respect. While the adab involves raising one's right hand towards the forehead and is practised by South Asian Muslims.

2. The Bow 

Practised in Asian and and Japan the polite bow is a considered a very respectful greeting that can be amended depending on level of respect you want to show the other person, the nature of the relationship and the status of the two parties. A nod is used by younger people to indicate acknowledgment the other person, where a deeper bow is used for older people or those with differing social status.  

3. Namaste 

 Combine a hello with the spiritual vibes this South Asian variation on the bow. This palms together greeting accompanied by a slight bow is a Indian traditional greeting that roughly translates to  "the divine in me bows to the divine in you".

4. Air kiss

It's not just LA rich people worried about ruining their make-up who use this method of hello. In South America, and continental Europe the air kiss is often used in greeting with varying customs on how long the air-kissing should last - with some rituals going for three to four rounds. 

5. Making a motion to touch the feet

Traditionally used in India to show respect for older people, the motion is often attempted and curtailed half-way through by the receiever of feet-touching, preventing any actual touching. Kind of like a motion offered in generosity but waved off, this greeting is considered an epic mother-in-law pleaser. 

6. Clap your hands

Who doesn't want applause when they are being greeted by friends? Here's a celebratory way of meeting someone that will leave you feeling like a rockstar.  

According to Travel Blog Afar: "In Zimbabwe, the clapping of hands comes after folks shake in a call and answer style—the first person claps once, and the second person twice, in response. Just be careful how you slap those palms together.Men clap with fingers and palms aligned, and women with their hands at an angle. In Northern Mozambique, people also clap, but three times before they say “moni” (hello)."

Coronavirus and avoiding the spread of xenophobia
Managing a public health crisis isn’t just about containing the spread of a deadly disease but our collective fear.