The other day, a younger cousin of my wife visited for the first time. Upon seeing him, he immediately went to touch my feet. I am always taken aback when someone touches my feet. In fact, I am a little embarrassed by the whole gesture and try to stop it before it happens.
In Indian culture, touching the feet of your elders means the person who is doing the act is showing respect and subservience to the one whose feet he/she is touching. The person’s whose feet are being touched is always superior in age and position. As per Hindu beliefs from several thousand years ago, the flow of energy into the body is from the top to the bottom-from the head through the body downwards and out of the body from the feet and hands. When one touches somebody’s feet to take their blessing, the “blesser” places their hands on the head of the “blessie”. Energy is transferred from one person to the other by touching somebody’s feet. So it’s not just about paying respects to your elders though that’s the reason why everybody does it.
Who am I to bless someone? Maybe it is how I was brought up? I never touched the feet of my elders. It was more important to give them a hug and kiss. Touching of someone’s feet was reserved only for priests during religious ceremonies. At least in my family that was the custom. Even to this day, I don’t touch the feet of my parents. Not that I feel I am above it but I feel it is an impersonal gesture almost fake gesture. A hug symbolizes more on a deeper more physical level.