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Greeting people is the first step to knowing them and eventually making friends with them. This is true in Afghanistan too, but it is even more important than it is in many western cultures. Greetings are so important in Afghanistan that some people say Salaam Alaikum (hello) even when returning to a room after only a few minutes’ absence.
Greetings are the first impression that you make. Your greetings can tell a lot about you in Afghan culture – with a proper greeting you will leave a positive impression on the other party. However, if you fail to greet people properly or do not greet them at all is considered extremely rude and they might think of you as being too proud or unsocial.
There are numerous greetings in Pashto, the shortest being Salaam Alaikum (Hello) to the longest, which can be several full sentences. You choose the type of greetings depending on the situation and the person you are greeting. To always be polite it is necessary to at least say the shortest form, Salaam Alaikum, literally meaning “peace be upon you”. If you feel that a longer greeting is necessary, (for instance if it is a friend that you have not seen for weeks or if the person is greeting you back warmly), then you can add more greetings after saying the initial “Salaam alaikum.”
Here are examples of Pashto greetings:
Ahmad: Salaam alaikum, Sanga astai?
Mahmud: Salam alaikum/walaikum salaam, kha yam manana, taso sanga astai?
Ahmad: Shokor dae, zhuwande osae.
The above sentences should be enough to keep you going, however depending on the situation and the relationship with the person, these are the sentences that you can add to your greetings:
Koor ke khairyat dae? (کور کې خیریت دی؟) How is everything at home?/How is your family?
Sehat de kha de? (صحت دې ښه دی؟) Is your health good?/How is your health?
Koor wadaan, manana. (کور ودان، مننه) May you be prosperous! Thank you!