Traditional Thai Greeting

Welcome to our guide to Thailand’s custorms  from Thai Center.This is useful for anyone researching Thai culture, we has a lot of  information about Thailand  and you can learn by yourself from here.

Now, we should start learning about greeting or farewell of Thais. Have you ever seen Thais greeting with The Wai (การไหว้) Thewai is the traditional form of greeting, giving by the person of lower status to the person of higher status.

 Let’s learn about history of The Wai, In Thai The wai originated from an ancient greeting like the Indian namasté and the Cambodian sampeah. The higher the hands are held in relation to the face and the lower the bow. The wai is traditionally observed upon formally entering a house. After the visit is over, the visitor asks for permission to leave and repeats the salutation made upon entering. The wai is also common as a way to express gratitude or to apologise.There exists multiple versions of the greeting based on social class, gender, and age.

When you come to Thailand, don't touch, hug or kiss Thais  when you meet them. Thai people are not familiar  with these kinds of body languages. It may be  as some have observed, that  we Asian people are often shy. In general, any physical contact (apart, these days, from a handshake) is considered inappropriate. Although you may do it out of respect and with all good intentions, it  will makes them feel uncomfortable, especially if it is done in public. Most Thais are not used to this type of gesture and have no idea how to react to it. It may leaves everyone, including you, feeling awkward.

When Thai people present  Wai?  Thais use the wai as a polite gesture to say hi, goodbye, thank you or simply to show respect and gratitude towards people and things. Don’t hesitate to make The Wai whenever  you see Thai people.

How To wai?  place the palms of your hands together and hold them close to and in front of your chest. Then slowly lower your head (how much you lower depends on whom you are waiing).

There is a saying that making a wai is like making the shape of a lotus bud. The lotus is the most important symbol for Buddhists.

To keep it simple, here are the three basic Wais 

1. This wai is used by an older or superior people in response to the wai of someone younger or of lower status. It is also used by people of the same age or social status when they wai each other.

2. This wai is used towards an older or superior person. For example, a student  will wai this way to a teacher, or a child to his or her grandmother.

3. The last type of wai is used for showing respect to a monk or a Buddha image, whether you are standing or sitting. You may also see Thais waiing monks by half-lying down, placing thehands on the floor in a wai, then lowering their head to their hands. 

Anyway, please try to Wai before you come to Thailand or  when you met Thais you should greet them with Wai.
A common Thai greeting  accompanied by "sawadeeka" (for female) or "sawadeekrap"(for male). It is the most  warm friendly comforting and welcoming.

Thank  you for paying attention on our website. J

Piyarnart Chuanchoey


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