7 Traditional Indonesian Greeting Etiquette to Follow

Greeting is a simple form of interaction between human. But it can be complex when tradition, customs, and tradition involve in shaping the greeting form. This makes greeting customs different country to another, including in Indonesia. When you are planning to visit or stay in Indonesia, learning the traditional Indonesian greeting etiquette is crucial, so, you can respect and greet the local people in the right way. Here are some brief explanations of traditional Indonesian greeting etiquette. Also learn Indonesian greeting etiquette.

1. Shake hands

Shaking hands is the most common way to greet someone. Most people shake hand in casual to formal occasion. Handshakes are also commonly used to congratulate someone and saying goodbye. One important thing about this greeting tradition is that Indonesian may not shake hands as firm as westerners do. There are many factors influence the way Indonesian shake hand including lack of comfort and confidence.

Another difference of hand shake in Indonesia is some people may put their hands in their chest slightly to reflect sincerity. While some other people may also touch their nose slightly after handshake with the same purpose. You can follow the same.

It is also important to note that Indonesian does not directly shake hands between men and women. They do shake hand only when the women initiate first. Otherwise, Indonesian men will just smile with slight nod. Also learn how to say hello in Indonesian.

2. ‘Salim’ for younger people

‘Salim’ is the extension of handshake in which you put the palm of the hands (the one who offer handshake) in your forehead. This greeting is only performed by children or student to older people. Many people also do ‘salim’ to those they give high respect such as when greeting with teacher or president. Also learn Indonesian business greetings.

3. Religious greetings

Besides the common greetings, you may also notice that some people use religious greetings. Here we are going to explain the religious greeting of Islam and Hindu. This does not mean that other religious does not have specific greetings. It is just they use the common types of handshake.

  • Islam – the most common greeting among Muslim people is ‘Assalamualaikum’ which means ‘may the peace be upon you and the God’s blessing be with you’. This shows that Muslim people always spread love and peace around. Sometimes Assalamualaikum is also followed with handshake and kiss in the cheek but among people of the same sex only.
  • Hindu – different from traditional greeting of Islam, Hindu people greet each other by pressing their hands together in the chest (like when praying) and slight bow. This kind of traditional greeting is called ‘Namaste’. You can also follow the same types of greeting when greet Hindu people.

4. Nodding and smiling

Sometimes in a condition where hand shake is not available, nodding and smiling can replace the greeting. This is usually used to greet someone you know but you are not close enough to shake hand. So, you nod and smile to show that you recognize him/her. This type of greeting can also be used when you walk passed crowds and it is impossible to handshake everyone. Thus, you walk through while nodding and smiling and do not forget to say ‘permisi’.

5. Stand up when welcome someone

Indonesians have a strong hierarchical social system in which they put respect to older people. Thus, it is important to stand up when welcome someone especially older people then shake their hands. Also learn how to say thank you in Indonesian

6. Hugs and kisses are only for same sex only

Hugs and kisses are also allowed but between the same sexes only. Unless, you are close to a women or men in person or they are your relatives, make sure not to initiates hugs and kisses. Sometimes, even among families do not hug and kiss as a form of greeting. Also, hug and kisses between married couple is also prohibited in public. Also learn Indonesian wedding greetings.

7. What is prohibited?

  • Offering left hand – offering something including shake hand with left hand is a big no. It is the hand that you use to clean yourself in the bathroom. So, make sure to do everything in right hand as much as you do.
  • Pat someone’s head – pat someone’s head including children is also prohibited, unless they are your close relatives.

If you are still confuse with traditional greeting form in Indonesia, it is best to stick with the common handshake. Also important when greet someone is to put a smile on your face and resting the bitch-face for a while.

That’s The Traditional Indonesian Greeting Etiquette: