High Six Welcome Rituals From Across the World

Find out how six cultures around the world say hello and welcome.

4 min

Author: Lucia Novara

While typically exploring a new country, there is usually ample opportunity to take in the breathtaking scenery and discover world-famous landmarks. Travel also allows you to make amazing human connections, immerse yourself in living cultures and learn about fascinating customs.

There are many different ways to discover a nation’s special traditions, including participating in various unusual and wonderful welcoming rituals. Here are six of the most unique greetings still practiced around the world, from lively dancing in the Masai Mara region of Kenya to ceremonial giving in Fiji.

1 The Maasai “jumping dance”

Enchanting Travel Kenya Tours Masai Mara Maasai Dance

If your next big vacation takes you into the plains of Kenya, you will likely experience a unique tradition of welcoming! In addition to being the site of one of the greatest wildlife migrations on earth, the country’s Maasai Mara tribes are known for their hospitality and vigorous welcome ritual.

Known as Adamu (but also known as the “jumping dance”), their traditional greetings perform up to 12 warriors from a single tribe, performing a lively dance and telling a story with their movements. Towards the end, the group will gather in a circle and compete against each other to see who can jump the highest in the air.

Accompanied by singing and war cries, it is a real treat for the senses and an ideal opportunity to experience the Maasai culture!

2 New Zealand’s Maori Hongi

Enchanting Journeys - Welcoming Rituals - Maori Ceremony in New Zealand

Is New Zealand on your bucket list right now? In addition to its beautiful landscapes and relaxed culture, it is home to one of the most famous welcoming rituals in the world! Known as Hongi, this symbolic custom has been practiced among the Maori for generations. It essentially looks like you’re rubbing or touching someone’s nose, either when greeting them or as part of a solemn ceremony.

Asking to attend Hongi is considered the ultimate mark of respect and means that you have been properly accepted by a community. The act itself is sacred in Maori culture and comes from a local legend about the creation of women; allegedly they were given life when the god known as Tāne breathed air into their nostrils.

3 The Fijian Sevusevu ceremony

When Fiji’s idyllic coastline calls your name, you might want to familiarize yourself with the island nation’s Sevusevu ceremony. This centuries-old welcoming tradition is one of many important cultural activities and sees guests giving gifts to the chief (or head) of a community to enter their country and meet their people.

While sevusevu ceremonies are typically not performed in built-up areas, you may be able to attend one if you head off the beaten track to one of the island’s sleepy villages. Before doing this, you need to choose a gift or token that you want to accept. Kava root is a popular choice and is available in most markets.

As part of the sevusevu ceremony, whenever you visit a new settlement, ask the boss and then give them your gift. If you have brought kava roots with you, you can make a tea out of it, which is then shared by the group as part of the welcoming ritual.

4th Fragrant Omani coffee and incense

Oman is another country that places great emphasis on hospitality. For all coffee lovers among you, it will be a pleasure to hear that a traditional greeting from Oman usually involves sipping a freshly brewed cup!

Known as Qahwa in local jargon, Arabic coffee – often flavored with cardamom, cloves, and saffron – is usually served in Omani homes. Both its smell and taste will give you a warm welcome right away!

You may also find delicious treats like dates, nuts, and local baked goods to have with your coffee. In return, it is good practice in many regions of the country to give your hosts a gift of incense (historically incense) shortly before your departure.

5 The Australian Aborigines “Welcome to Country”

Yirrganydji Aboriginal people play aboriginal music on didgeridoo and wooden instrument during the Aboriginal culture show in Queensland, Australia

The respectful greeting of visitors has long been the practice among the indigenous communities of Australia. The “Welcome to the Land” ritual has been practiced for centuries and was once a standard protocol when non-locals wanted safe passage through Aboriginal lands or the Torres Strait.

Nowadays, the “Welcome to the Land” custom offers visitors an opportunity to honor the Aboriginal culture and way of life. It usually takes place at the beginning of a meeting or event and can range from giving a speech to singing or dancing.

A “Land Recognition” is another form of welcome tradition in Australia that can be practiced by non-locals and is considered respectful when gathering in Aboriginal lands.

6th India’s royal welcome ceremony

Enchanting journeys - welcoming ritual in India - woman welcoming guest

For centuries, Indians have lived by the saying “Atithi Devo Bhava”, which means “the guest is synonymous with God”. Indian hospitality traditions are warm and welcoming and nothing more than the welcoming ceremony.

When you enter a historic hotel or palace, ritual items await: fragrance or incense to purify the area, a lamp to light up (a throwback to a time without electricity), a vermilion and turmeric tilak painted on your forehead, and a garland from fresh flowers to signify goodwill.

Despite its name, you don’t have to be royalty to enjoy this welcoming ritual in India. This ceremony, which was once reserved for high-ranking members of society, is practiced in accommodations such as the Taj Rambagh Palace or Umaid Bhavan in Rajasthan and will add a touch of warmth and tradition to your stay!

Get a warm welcome no matter where you go when you book your trip through Enchanting Travels!

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