Pashto Language Blog

Men Holding Hands in Afghanistan Posted by on Jan 6, 2013 in Culture

men holding hands

In this post I would like to start by asking you a question. Suppose you are a man and you are in Afghanistan, what would you do if an afghan male-coworker or a friend approaches you and holds your hand? Well, I bit you will panic, blush, and be nervous. In this post we will share with you some information on holding hands in Afghanistan.

In Afghanistan, it is totally normal for a man to hold another man’s hand, or for a boy to hold another boy’s hand. However, it is prohibited for the opposite sexes to hold hands unless they are engaged or married. Men and women don’t even shake hands when they greet each other; there is no physical contact between men and women who are not related. It is rare to see a woman shake a man’s hand.

When two men greet each other, they will shake hands and also kiss each other on the cheek.  Sometimes, depending on how well they know each other, or how often they see each other, they will hug. It is very normal to see two adult males holding hands in public and talking to each other.  Even in formal sittings like offices and workplaces it is not unusual to see two adult male coworkers holding hands and discussing a business matter.

Remember that when a man holds your hand it does not mean anything; it is only an expression of friendship. Of course, it will make you uncomfortable at first if you are not used to this kind of culture, but you can constantly remind yourself that it does not mean anything similar to what it would mean in the west. Also, never refuse holding someone’s hand. You can always find an excuse to have your hand released, for example, you can pretend to wipe your nose or to scratch your face or head.

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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”.