The Custom of Touching Elders’ Feet


In India, we follow the custom of touching elders' feet to seek their blessings. I don’t understand the theory behind this. Could you explain please? Also there are certain undesirable elders whose blessings I don’t want. is it ok if I don’t touch their feet?

—Niharika Seth, India


Dear Niharika Seth,

In general, touching an elder’s feet is a gesture of respect. It does not necessarily by itself draw any blessings; the elder is free to bestow blessings or not.

However, touching the feet (or any part of the body) of a spiritually advanced person—elder, child, or anything in between—can indeed draw an immediate blessing if one is receptive to it.

You are free to touch an elder’s feet or not. Depending on your relationship with that elder, a decision not to touch the feet might or might not be considered disrespectful. Certainly the custom is not as strong in India as it once was, although some people still honor it.

In any case, the choice is yours. Choose wisely.