what does this hand gesture mean?

#1 May 23rd, 2017, 23:12
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  • gacyclops is offline
#1
I live in the USA. A neighbor's father, from Chennai, first greeted me by holding his left hand up, palm outward, fingers slightly curled, thumb pointing out, the back of his hand touching his forehead. I have seen this before but do not know what it would mean coming from a Christian who lives in Chennai.
#2 May 23rd, 2017, 23:22
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  • nycank is offline
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A salute ? But a left hand is rarely used.
#3 May 23rd, 2017, 23:40
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gacyclops View Post I live in the USA. A neighbor's father, from Chennai, first greeted me by holding his left hand up, palm outward, fingers slightly curled, thumb pointing out, the back of his hand touching his forehead. I have seen this before but do not know what it would mean coming from a Christian who lives in Chennai.
Tried to imitate the gesture. If I've got it right, it's what I might do to shield my eyes from the sun. Any chance it could be as simple as that?
Walt Whitman - Song of Myself

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Very well then I contradict myself,
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#4 May 23rd, 2017, 23:59
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I can think of a simple explanation. This is a typical way of blessing from a distance by some old people, and not specific to any particular region.

Usually older people bless by putting their hand on the head of those touching their feet, so this gesture is the closest they can get to original stuff. The curled fingers are natural hand position for everyone, and sometimes may become extreme due to gout etc. As to the hand touching forehead, this is just a way of old or weak body taking the hand position that requires minimal effort.
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Last edited by jituyadav; May 24th, 2017 at 10:17.. Reason: typo
#5 May 24th, 2017, 01:39
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gacyclops View Post I live in the USA. A neighbor's father, from Chennai, first greeted me by holding his left hand up, palm outward, fingers slightly curled, thumb pointing out, the back of his hand touching his forehead. I have seen this before but do not know what it would mean coming from a Christian who lives in Chennai.
I have no idea... and I'm married to a Chennai Christian! As far as I know, and I don't take much notice of their religion, they don't have any specific greetings of that sort (May Jesus, Mary, Joseph and Patrick be with you). And if you find someone making the sign of the cross at you, you're probably in trouble! Oh wait, you're very large and have only when eye?

One thing though. Most polite stuff in India is done with the right hand. Whilst there are metaphysical explanations, the physical explanation goes back to potty training. Which surpasseth all faiths.

There is a one-handed thing, touching the fingers to the chest. You know... this is a greeting I have exchanged many times, and never been quite certain what it means! A a sort of one-handed namaste. And anyway, what does shaking hands actually mean?

Shading the eyes... A facepalm...

So, this is your neighbour's dad. Please ask your neighbour... and let us know!
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#6 May 24th, 2017, 02:26
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Originally Posted by Nick-H View Post There is a one-handed thing, touching the fingers to the chest. You know... this is a greeting I have exchanged many times, and never been quite certain what it means! A a sort of one-handed namaste.
Hand on heart, more like?
I wouldn't say it's common-place, but quite a few people do it up north, specially in the hills. Quite wide-spread in the tribal areas of Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Quote:
And anyway, what does shaking hands actually mean?
You don't know? You should, coming from Europe and centuries of war. It shows that you have no weapon in hand.
#7 May 24th, 2017, 04:07
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#7


Oh right, now I remember those centuries of war! Yes, I think I might have been told that at school about 55 years ago. Along with all that stuff about which side of a lady I should walk, keeping my sword in mind.

But this hand-on-heart thing: same for Muslim and Hindu? Whatever it is, it would be the Hindu version I've picked up... from Hindus. And I encounter it regularly.
#8 May 24th, 2017, 04:38
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Originally Posted by Nick-H View Post ... all that stuff about which side of a lady I should walk...
Curbside or (since you will be a pickle about such things) kerbside the better to protect her from the spatter of nightsoil dumped into the street from windows in overhanging buildings.
#9 May 24th, 2017, 05:34
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#9
I thought it was to protect her from the grasp of a passing abducting horseman. Poor feminine flower: as if she can't thump him herself!

I think it is time for this thread to be given the gesture that was so perfectly described by someone on Indiamike, many years ago, as being like unscrewing a lightbulb.

Whoever it was, I should like to thank person for having made a major contribution to my integration here. That gesture is now second nature to me, but it was they who provided the key for me to unlock it. It is certainly not possible to drive without it!


#10 May 24th, 2017, 16:31
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Originally Posted by Nick-H View Post But this hand-on-heart thing: same for Muslim and Hindu?
Yep..

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