The Proper Way to Greet a Buddhist Monk

The Wai gesture serves as a simple and respectful greeting with a Buddhist monk.

Buddhism is practiced throughout the world and has many different traditions in countries such as Thailand, China and India. Buddhist monks should always be treated with respect in any social situation. Although there are many different Buddhist traditions throughout the world, the most common form of greeting a Buddhist monk is called the Wai, according to Thaiways magazine. This simple gesture creates space and respect in the greeting process and can be quickly mastered.

Keep a clear distance between yourself and the monk, about a yard or two is ideal. A handshake or close contact is not condoned.

Place both of your hands together, palms facing, in a “prayer” pose and place them at the center of your forehead.

Bend the upper half of your body at a slight angle, allowing your head to angle downward as well. Women can also move a foot back behind their body and bend their legs slightly to create an even lower bow. Ideally, you should only bow at about a 45-degree angle, rather than dipping your whole torso to the ground.

Bow for a couple of seconds and return to the standing position. Once you have completed the bow, you will have respectfully greeted the Buddhist monk. This bow can also be practiced with lay people in countries such as Thailand. It is considered polite and respectful.

Sarah Vrba has been a writer and editor since 2006. She has contributed to "Seed," "AND Magazine," Care2 Causes and "202 Magazine," among other outlets, focusing on fashion, pop culture, style and identity. Vrba holds an M.A. in history with an emphasis on gender and fashion in the 19th century.