India is a land of cultural diversity. Indian history has been heavily influenced by Dharmic Religions. Every religion follows certain culture and practices. Though many of the old practices have given way to modern thinking, most of them are still followed by Indians across the country. Let us see some traditional practices.
Washing the feet
Washing the feet with water and in some cases with milk can be found in the Indian and especially the Hindu culture and practices for various reasons.
Before entering the house
It was a practice to wash the feet with water before entering the house when one returns home from outside. A vessel made of bell metal, known as Kindi used to be kept filled with water outside the house.
Those who come after a journey or come from outside – even from the backyard – used to wash their feet and hands before entering inside. It was mainly for hygienic reasons that was followed. Footwear was not common during those times and used to be considered as luxury. To keep away from dust and harmful bacteria, washing the feet and hands is important. But this practice is very rarely found currently.
Before Pooja or Worship
Priests wash their feet before starting a pooja whether it is in the temple or at home. This is one of the rituals before doing a pooja. Many temples have facilities to wash the hand and legs of the devotees before entering inside. This is to keep the sanctity of the temples and maintain hygiene and cleanliness.
Hindu Marriages and Welcome
It is a custom in Hindu Marriage to wash the feet of the groom, usually by the younger brother of the bride before he enters the marriage hall. It is also a custom to wash the feet of Gurujis, elders and prominent people to get their blessings when they are welcomed home or during some occasions. Similar practice is followed in other religions as well.
At least due to the Covid-19 situation, many have felt the need of washing the hands as soon as they enter the house from outside. Some even change the dress completely and take bath before touching anything. This is a very good sign and should be continued even after getting out of the Pandemic.
Once a guest or the household enters the house, it was a custom to offer something to drink – plain Water, Laban or something light. Like washing the feet, many are still following this across the country. The reason behind this is that the person might have walked a long distance and be tired. So, even before the guest or the household asks for something to drink, it was considered best practice to offer him/her.
Nowadays, most of the travel is by car or other vehicles. It may not involve much physical exertion and also many will be carrying bottled water. There is a decline in this practice and mostly the guest or the person coming from outside will ask for something to drink. But as a courtesy, it is advisable to continue the tradition.
We will look into more like these in the upcoming articles.