Cultural cues: "tashi delek"
A first-time visitor to Tibet stands in front of a local Tibetan. "Tashi delek," says the tourist in greeting to the Tibetan, and back comes the reply: “Tashi delek.” When you visit Tibet for the first time, these two words will be universally understood by native Tibetans, a gracious greeting of blessing which is sure to bring smiles and build instant rapport.
We all know the adage, “when in Rome, do as the Romans do,” and traveling in Tibet is no different. “Tashi delek” is the traditional Tibetan greeting to friends and strangers alike, conveying wishes of blessing, good health, and luck. Due to their good-hearted nature, Tibetans love to exchange this greeting and will gladly return it when you initiate. Older Tibetans might even open their mouth and stick their tongue out at you, a cultural way of showing that they are being sincere!
Tibetans all over the Tibetan Plateau respond warmly when tourists say this phrase to them - no doubt “Tashi delek” is the key to opening welcome communication. Regarded as a general greeting nowadays, Tashi delek is especially common and appropriate to use during the Tibetan New Year, called Losar. All Tibetans celebrate Losar hoping for blessings in the coming year and your wishes will send them well on their way!