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Sampeah (Cambodian greeting)

The Sampeah (Khmer: សំពះ) is a Cambodian greeting or a way of showing respect. It is very similar to the Thai wai. Both Sampeah and Thai wai are based on the Indian Añjali Mudrā used in namasté. Pranāma or Namaste, the part of ancient Indian culture has propagated to southeast Asia, which was part of indosphere of greater India, through the spread of Hinduism and Buddhism from India.

While performing the sampeah, the person places his palms together in a prayer-like fashion while bowing slightly. The word often spoken with the sampeah when greeting somebody is ជំរាបសួរ (Khmer pronunciation: [cumriəp suə]), while ជំរាបលា (Khmer pronunciation: [cumriəp liə]) is spoken when saying goodbye.

Although the Sampeah is a form of greeting, it is also a common way to say thanks or apologize and is an important part of Khmer culture which is heavily influenced by Indian Hindu/Buddhist culture. There are different ways of bowing when performing the Sampeah. When praying to the Buddha (who founded Buddhism in India), the person places his palms together close to his or her face and brings his or her hands toward the ground three times. Just like Indian Añjali Mudrā namasté, it is also important when one Sampeahs to elders. The higher the hands and the lower the bow, the more respect is shown. It is a sign of respect and politeness.

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