3 Significant Hand Greetings in Southeast Asia

Southeast Asia is full of beliefs and unique culture that others will never understand. From the way we greet people, the way we eat, and even the way we talk, we have our own traits.

With that being said, we have our own way of greeting people, especially our way of incorporating hand gestures.

Once you are in our region, here are the 3 most common types of hand greeting you will come across with:

1. The casual, Western handshake.

Just like everyone else, we also shake our hands. Sometimes we do firm grips and sometimes, we are just delicate. But more than anything else, this is mostly used in business.

Photo from unsplash.com website by Sebastian Herrmann
Photo from thespruce.com website

2. The hand-over-heart greeting.

If you have been in a predominantly Muslim country in the Southeast Asian region, you probably have seen this gesture. However, please do not think that this greeting is exclusive to their faith. This is just a sentimental gesture which means that you are accepting the person you just met.

Photo from dignitymemorial.com website
Photo from asmallworld.com website

Beyond Southeast Asia, World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus also uses the hand-over-heart greeting, owing to its apparent superiority over COVID-era elbow bumps.

3. Pressed palms and a bow.

This is when you put your right hand over your heart while lowering your head. This is our way of greeting people to respect, not only the elderly, but also everyone else.

Photo from dignitymemorial.com website
Photo from insider.com website

Regardless of one’s way of greeting, we all know that Southeast Asians are warm and very welcoming. There is no need to judge our way of greeting. It just differ per country.

Sarah Ladeza
"Cebu needs no Disneyland because it is already a wonderland."

Copywriter | Boholana

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