There is no English word that directly translates to effectuate the use of Bendición. In direct translation the word is Blessing. Some may argue that it can also be Benediction. With the language barrier blessing or benediction do not fulfill the context in which we use it. Let me explain.
I am a daughter to first-generation Puerto Ricans. My parents taught my siblings and I a Puerto Rican tradition; to use Bendición as a salutation to our Grandparents, Aunts and Uncles. The practice of saying Bendición to our Elders is also popular among other Latino cultures. Although, it may differ between cultures I speak of Bendición on behalf of my experience.
As we grew older not only would we say Bendición to family members. We would also use it on other Elders which we had a respect, a love, an affection for. It can be used when greeting the person, departing from the person, or the way we were taught, both.
In part it has religious ties. The response to Bendición is typically “Dios te Bendiga” which translates to God Bless You. Other typical responses are “Que La Virgen te cuide” – ‘May the Virgen [Mary] take care of you.’ Or “Que Dios y la Virgen te cuide y acompañe” – ‘May God and the Virgen [Mary] take care of you and accompany you.’
Putting aside the religious responses, the simple yet powerful Bendición is a connection between you and the Elder. It demonstrates the love, the respect, and honor their presence has in your life. Their response is an affirmation of their love, care, and available guidance for You.