Saturday, June 16, 2012

The act of touching others' feet

Watching an old Tamil movie clip on Youtube the other day, I was once again witnessing the grace and humility with which most women kneel or prostrate in front of their husband's feet.

This is what I wrote as a comment on Sepia Mutiny's blog a few years ago on the art of prostrating:

I come from a very irreverent family. As far as I know, 3 generations of my kin have not lowered or bent their spines for another human; not once. So as an outsider looking in on adult-children expressing their love, gratitude and respect for their parents (or gurus, as in Bharatnatyam gurus or aged tuition-masters), I cannot help but wonder if I am missing out on a very unique and beautiful expression of the parent-child (or guru-sishya) relationship. When done right, the gesture is akin to an art form; the body expresses so much: complete surrender of the ego, near-rapturous attention, utter devotion.

Of course, not everyone is picture-perfect enough to feed my romantic notions of this tradition. Some, especially the men, are as stiff and awkward as I will be if pushed onto the catwalk and expected to sashay in a seductive manner in front of hundreds of strangers.

In my circle, the only times I get to witness similar uninhibited, gracious public displays of highly-esteemed relationships are when the adults are interacting with cuddly toddlers, brand new loves, potted plants and furry pets. And not necessarily in that order.

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