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This is something I asked the monks about at my Thai Theravada Buddhist temple, but they couldn't explain. I wasn't sure if they just didn't know or if it was a language problem.
When you approach a Buddha statue to chant or meditate, you kneel and bow 3 times -- once for each aspect of the Triple Gem -- to the Buddha, the Dharma, and the Sangha. But, within each bow you place your hands together first in front of your chin, then in front of your nose, then in front of your forehead.