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Touching elders' feet in India is an integral part of the tradition. Explore the concept of the Indian tradition of touching feet.


Touching Feet

Those who do not know much about the Indian culture and tradition get very baffled when they see children in India touching the feet of their elders. This is, infact, the commonest Indian gesture and touching someone's feet means the person who is doing the act is showing his respect and subservience to the one whose feet he/she is touching. However, one important aspect related to this gesture is that the person's whose feet is being touched is always superior in age and position.

Touching elders' feet is the first lesson in manners and etiquette that all Indian children are taught. So, generally, one is supposed to touch the feet of a person if he/she happens to be an elder member of the family or a respected spiritual person. Since Indians normally live in joint families, this gesture is performed by the sons and daughter-in-laws for their parents and grand parents. Though very young children are guided by their parents to learn this gesture, the comparatively elder ones are expected to do it spontaneously.

In Indian culture, there are specific occasions when a person is expected to touch his / her elders' feet. These occasions include before one is departing for or arriving back from a journey, weddings, religious and festive occasions, etc. In earlier times, it was a like a custom in India for youngsters to touch their parents' feet first thing in the morning and before going to bed. Though there are many who still follow this rule, the truth is that the tradition is now slowly waning away with time.

When an elder person's feet are being touched, he /she, in turn, is supposed to touch the head of the person doing the act and bless him /her for long life, fortune and prosperity. Interestingly, the act of touching feet gets somewhat intensified during certain occasions. For instance, many people prefer prostrating before the deities in temples or before persons of high rank spiritually and even politically. Touching the feet is an integral part of the Indian culture and tradition and not adhering to it by natives is considered as disrespectful.