Coming to Cambodia, tourists will find it interesting to learn and practice the greeting custom of the local people that is much different from the western countries or even many Asian nations. Greeting etiquette has shown the unique culture of the Cambodian that has been created and remained throughout the generations.
How to greet in Cambodia
In Cambodia, when people meet each other, they will put their hands together in front of their chest, bow and say “Chumreap sour”. In the Khmer language, “Chumreap” means “revered” so this word is frequently used in daily activities for greetings or saying goodbye. The Cambodian greeting comes from a profound spiritual meaning, in which the Khmer perceive that the head is the most sacred and noble place of a human and the act of hand clasping like the lotus bud is a sincere gesture and represents a high level of reverence. The reason is that the lotus is considered as the flower of Buddha – a precious type of flower; therefore, the Cambodian facsimile its shape to show their respect to the others.
Different ways to greet according to the age and social status
The Cambodian greeting custom is not only to greet the others but also is a way to appreciate the social hierarchies so each level will have a certain etiquette that regulates how high to clasp the hands and how low to bow. For instance:
– When a junior meets a senior, the junior must first greet with higher hand clapping to express the respect and the sensor response with a lower hand gesture.– When a young person wants to show respect for the older person, he should bow until their nose touches his hand. For the women, besides folding and bowing, they need to bend their knees slightly, which is to show the modest and tenderness.
– When the Cambodian bow the national flag, the symbols of the royal, or the monks, the fingertips will be raised higher than the eyebrow and touch the forehead.
– With the people of the same age, they just need to clasp the hands and bow at the same height.
The formal greeting customs are the daily activities for the first meeting and when greeting the senior. After that, slight stopping is acceptably used. The custom has shown the respectful culture of the Cambodian to each other, not humility. Let’s go to Cambodia and experience this unique greeting etiquette!