The culture of feet touching , amongst a million other things within a vibrant pot of culture, is what makes India.
What is it?
If someone who is your elder comes to meet you, you immediately fold yourself at your waist and touch his/her/ it’s feet.It is a way not just to greet but show respect.
Let that person be anyone : man, woman, crook, fool or a scoundrel.
My question : will you touch the feet of a donkey, buffalo, chair, antique who/which is elder to you? Since the only criteria that applies here is he/ she / it has to be older than you?
Age cannot be a criteria for respect .
You will say it has experience.
Experience has to be respected?What sort of experience should be respected?
The fact that someone has grown old ? or the fact that he/ she has lived and has something to offer, something I already don’t know? Or something that makes me a better person? Someone who lived to make the world better?
Yes, I can have regard for age but not respect.
Yes, I will get up to offer a seat to an older person. But I will not give up my right to think for him/ her.
Should I respect an old man/woman who is busy treating an entire village as a slave? Encouraging female infanticide? Bride burning? Is a crook?
So age is not a criteria for respect thought it is a criteria to give up a bus seat.
Now me being an Indian should not talk bad or question about my Indian culture let that be feet touching or anything else. I have been told innumerable times. I should blindly follow them. I have been warned too.
But then I have an argument : God gave me my own head, my own heart and my own two feet. Of course he gave me my kidneys too but that is me stating the obvious. So, just like God expected me to stand on my own feet, so he must have wanted me to think for myself. If he did not intend so, he would have given me an empty skull with a face to flaunt. But he did not. That means he wanted me to think and not let you think for me. The same way he allowed me the privilege to feel for myself, pee and shit too.
Yes, I borrow from history but I am not going to be history. God never meant me to be.
Or else instead of looking forward for tomorrow I would be looking towards yesterday!
There is no way to go back.No one can go back and relive.
Even if science found a way I have no intension to live like a cave woman, no I don’t want to live in the fifteen or sixteenth century either.
We don’t even know the names of our fore fathers…how far through our genetic tree can we name our ancestors? Yet I am supposed to be fine with what they did and copy it?
So, I believe everything including a country’s philosophy, religion, culture, science, politics…even food that has been handed to us on a platter of yesterday has to be questioned. Debated, argued and at times shouted but like humans and not like dogs.
Everything has a shelf life so do ideas and ideals.Facts change on a daily basic so will truth.
We are born and we die that is the only truth. The only constant is change.
Everything else is open for argument.
That is the only way to right wrongs and improve as a society.
And I believe culture like roots are necessary but then for a tree to grow, be healthy, firm and stable and reach new heights new roots have to grow.Cultures have to change.
Especially culture like touching feet that has its foundation only on age and with no other valid reason.
It cannot mean respect especially if it is forced upon.
Respect is earned. Like every other feeling or emotion or whatever you call them.
You don’t, cannot be respected just because you are elder to me.
A fellow hundred years younger to me will get my respect if he so deserves.Now some of you might ask : touching feet is nothing more than touching feet. It’s just what you do. There is no need to give it so much mileage.
We do give a lot of mileage to hosting our flags let them be a national flag or a girl scouts flag. Don’t we?
A single act can mean a lot.
Similarly a single act of defiance will mean a lot.
Even a single link broken will give life to Alice in chains. She can build her wonderland again.
Yes, Society has to change and I am not going to touch your feet even if you are twenty or hundred years older than me.
I am not going to relive your life.
I am not going to be your shadow.
I will not bow to history.
It took a million years for me to shift from four feet to two and I am not going back.