From the White House to the All-England badminton event, to British Royalty, to the Indian Parliament and, closer home, Telangana Assembly, if one thing has been agreed to, as the coronavirus becomes a pandemic, it’s the borderless virtue of a ‘Namaskar’. The gesture of the folded hands, the symbol of humility and Indian tradition, is fast becoming the form to express a universal method of taking on the virus.
‘Swachh Namaskaram’ was the way of life with Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) and its staff till recently. In fact, the idea of ‘Swachh Namaskaram’ defined the tone and tenor of the GHMC campaign in the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan movement as also the Swachh Survekshan inspections in 2017-2018. Introduced inspirationally as a campaign to combine tradition and the spirit of Swachhta, it came to be readily and voluntarily accepted for many a reason.
The ‘Swachh Bharat/ Telangana’ campaign emerged out of a national fervour for hygiene and cleanliness as a step towards accomplishment of Mahatma Gandhi’s vision of total sanitation. It was a humongous task to communicate the swachhta message to the Indian populace. The combining of ‘Swachh’ with the ‘Namaskar’ and the birth of the philosophy of ‘Swachh Namaskar’ had the innate potential of communicating the community hygiene and individual responsibility.
That’s why precisely, world over, various organisations in their coronavirus guidance/ advisories advocate the avoidance of handshakes and recommend the ‘Namaskar’ to meet and greet. World Health Organization (WHO) has, for long, been promoting the idea of WASH – Water, Sanitation and Hygiene, to encourage personal and community hygiene, in the wake of the corona pandemic, in a subtle manner is suggesting the ‘Swachh Namaskar’.
Swachh Namaskar cut across time zones and made its way into the world. The non-contact greeting promotes good health too, keeps one away from catching a common cold, flu, etc., and minimises the risk of infection. Especially when greeting women, ‘namaskar’ is surely more comfortable for both the parties. When Prime Minister announced ‘Swachh Bharat Abhiyan’ from the ramparts of the Red Fort, Delhi, Hyderabad GHMC responded resoundingly with a revered ‘Swachh Namaskar’. In fact, at a programme in Vigyan Bhavan, in 2018, when representing GHMC to receive an award from the Prime Minister, the greeting of ‘Swachh Namaskar’ by yours truly was received with thunderous ovation.
The Swachh Namaskar greeting with an endearing smile, communicated the spirit of Swachh Bharat and Swachh Telangana message across sections of society, including the hearing-impaired and the speech-impaired as it is a symbol of tradition, a visual expression.
‘Namaste’ is culturally intrinsic to India and Bharatiya sanskruti and a non-contact form of greeting with two palms pressed together with a smile. Namas (bowing or homage); te (you) meaning “I bow to the divinity within you” defines the Indian ethos.
More than 50 countries have managed to totally eradicate many communicable diseases. However, for many others, especially among the developing countries, ‘Swachh Namaskar’ could be an effective mantra against all forms of contagious diseases.
Telangana Government — through its swachh programmes included in ‘Pattana and Palle pragathi’, promoting the vision of the Chief Minister — has focus on greenery and sanitation, in its effort to bring about transformational impact on the ground. This vision of the Government translates into reality through the simple message of ‘Swachh Namaskar’.
Namaskar finds a mention in the ancient vedas. The joining together of the palms is said to provide connection between the right and left hemispheres of the brain and represents unification. The hands and fingers are together with fingertips pointing up. The hands are pressed together firmly and evenly near the heart. An overhead Namaskar is generally resorted to in temples.
The ring tone of GHMC as also urban local bodies across Telangana went on the lines of ‘Swachh Namaskaram’… Chetta… chetta kadu… (waste is not waste, a resource) instilling in the callers a sense of ‘swachhata’ combined with the divinity of a ‘Namaste’. Schools and NGOs have taken it upon themselves to promote the vision of Swachh Namaskar.
As cricket matches get postponed, NBA avoids the high fives, air travel is curtailed, visas are suspended, countries and people are isolated/quarantined, as nature takes the world onto hitherto unchartered territories of health – and as human endeavour struggles to understand the overarching reach of nature into defining our lifestyles, Swachh Namaskar is just like nature — simple, easy, yet all powerful.
It is time we used the Swachh Namaskar as a way to usher in great health to our fellow countrymen as also bid goodbye to corona.
As the United Nations has declared the coronavirus a pandemic, in the effort to combat the deadly virus, this signature of Indian tradition and culture, symbol of divinity, steeped in humility, ‘Swachh Namaskar’ representing the universal resolve and hope, is also rapidly gaining relevant acceptance. Swachh Namaskaram.