Sign of respect

In Indian culture, it’s customary to greet your elders by touching their feet. It’s a sign of respect.

As the youngest member of my family, that means everyone. Grandparents and parents. Aunts and uncles. Older siblings and cousins (their spouses too). Even close friends of your parents.

Different rules

Despite growing up in NYC, we’ve held on to this tradition.

Whenever we meet our relatives, I touch their feet. And since we have a lot of extended family nearby, I do a lot of bending over. (Please don’t take that out of context.)

However, there are different rules for the nuclear family. I only touch my parents’ and siblings’ feet on special occasions. Religious holidays and birthdays, for example. We see them all the time, so it’s just more convenient that way.

Don’t take them for granted

That got me thinking. It’s a sign of respect, but I only really show it to my extended family. Doesn’t my immediate family deserve it just as much, if not more?

Sure, it’s only a symbolic gesture. It doesn’t fully represent how you feel about the person. Just because I don’t touch their feet every day doesn’t mean that I don’t value them. Still, it is a gesture - a small but visible act that shows I respect them.

We take the people closest to us for granted. We assume they know what they mean to us, but we rarely get the opportunity to express it.

I’ve talked about celebrating people through weddings and birthdays, but they are so few and far between. It’s important to do it on a more regular basis too: that’s why I touch my parents’ feet every morning.

How are you going to appreciate your loved ones?

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P.S: You can find more of my thoughts on Twitter @_suketk.