Dari Language Blog

Greeting Women in Afghanistan Posted by on Jul 10, 2011 in culture

Every culture and society has their own unwritten rules for social behavior and in certain areas there are differences in the rules for men and women. This is also true in Afghanistan. There are different rules for men and women in certain areas of social life. For instance many societies have different way of greeting men and women; in the US men do not kiss while greeting each other but a man and a woman may kiss on the cheek. Similarly there are certain unwritten rules that apply when you greet a woman in Afghanistan and it is very different than greeting a man. Here we will discuss how to properly greet a woman in Afghanistan.

If you are a man and you are in Afghanistan, you have to always remember the proper way to greet an Afghan woman. The best way to greet a woman in Afghanistan is to put your hand on your chest and say Salam alaikum (Hello) and slightly nod, and ask Chetor asten? (how are you?) and any other greetings in Dari that you remember. The majority of Afghan women shake hands only with their close relatives and never shake hands with strangers or male coworkers or friends.  So never extend your hand to a woman because there is a great chance that she will refuse to shake your hand.  However if an Afghan woman initiates a hand shake it is ok to shake her hand.

If you are a woman and you are in Afghanistan, you can greet a woman any way you want. The most common way a woman greets a woman is with a kiss on the cheek while shaking hands.  But remember that a lot of women will avoid greeting with kissing on the cheek if they are in public. They will only shake hands or greet without shaking hands.  So it is always safer to closely follow the person you are greeting and greet her the way she greets you.

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About the Author: Sayed Naqibullah

Sayed Naqibullah speaks Pashto and Dari as his native languages. Since 2004 he has been teaching Dari and Pashto and working as cultrual advisor to NGO workers, foreigners who live, work, or are visiting Afghanistan. Sayed has worked as a linguist for several companies that produce language course-ware. He has worked as a guide, interpreter and translator of a number of NGOs working in Afghanistan. Sayed is also a blog writer on Afghan culture and languages. He is the author of a Dari language textbook called “Dari as a Second Language”.


  1. Lisa Fairbair:

    I am preparing a training on Afghan customs and I had a question for you. Can women put there hands on their heart to greet a man or is that something that only men do? Thanks.
    Lisa F.