Coronavirus: Indian celebrities call for ‘Namaste’ instead of handshake

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As ditching handshakes is gaining currency in the wake of coronavirus outbreak across the world, with international sportspersons endorsing fist bumps instead, Bollywood stars and India’s leading sportspersons are calling on their fans and social media followers to do the traditional Namaste to greet each other. Namaste is the customary Indian way of greeting people with a slight bow and hands pressed together, palms touching and fingers pointing upwards, thumbs close to the chest.

India’s ace shuttler PV Sindhu is the latest public figure to endorse the idea of greeting people with a Namaste. The 24-year old said on Sunday that she would not be shaking hands during next week’s All England Open Badminton Championships in Birmingham and use ‘Namaste’ greeting instead.

Bollywood actor Salman Kham took to the social media to urge his fans to avoid handshakes and use Namaste and Salaam instead to address people, as the number of confirmed coronavirus cases increased in India. Khan shared on instgram a picture of himself taken inside a gym with folder hands in a Namaste.

The country’s information and broadcasting minister Prakash Javadekar endorsed the idea that people should greet each other with folded hands.

Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also encouraged his countrymen to adopt 'Namaste' as opposed to shaking hands, during a press conference in Jerusalem on Wednesday.

Earlier, another Bollywood actor Anupam Kher shared a video of himself to advise his fans to do Namaste instead of handshakes. Kher tweeted, "Of late I am being told by lots of people to keep washing hands to prevent any kind of infection. I do that in any case. But also want to suggest the age-old Indian way of greeting people called #Namaste. It is hygienic, friendly & centres your energies. Try it.”

Bollywood cancels biggest awards ceremony

The International Indian Film Academy (IIFA) on Friday called off its 21st annual awards extravaganza, Bollywood’s biggest awards ceremony, because of coronavirus outbreak. Organizers said they had to postpone the three-day event in Indore starting March 27 because of the "sensitivity" of the mounting health crisis. “A fresh date and plans for hosting IIFA in Madhya Pradesh will be announced at the earliest," they said.

While Hollywood movies are being rescheduled, with the global film industry facing losses of over $5 billion, Bollywood is playing wait and watch. However, stars have canceled multi-city tours and consider rescheduling their films as well.

"It is not a very aggravated situation in India right now, but people are getting the jitters. I am sure it will be controlled soon. If it spreads further, it will affect collections and cinemas. I think at the moment distributors and producers must be thinking of insuring their films. If we talk about movie-going, I think the effect is coming in gradually because people will have reservations about going out," trade analyst Rajesh Thadani told IANS news agency.

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