A dash of Pepper…

…with a splash of Mint

For foot’s sake!

Posted by Pepper on January 3, 2014

I have often wondered, why are our feet considered to be inauspicious, unhygienic, unlucky or disrespectful in India. Some people say it is because they are exposed to dirt. But I don’t get it. I mean, our limbs are most vital. And if you think about it, we use our hands to carry out tasks that are not always, erm, clean. So then why only talk about the feet when it comes to dirt? Most of us do not walk bare feet on muddy grounds. We protect our soles by putting on slippers and shoes. And the floors in our homes are either carpeted, or swabbed with disinfectants. So, what dirt?

Today, I was waiting to cross the road when I saw a little stall on the side. Shimmering anklets hung from a nail in the corner. I walked towards the stall to take a closer look, and to my delight, I realised the lady behind the counter had a treasure trove. Pretty anklets with bells and stars and hearts, all dangling from a silver chain. I went through all of them, until my eyes fell on a sole anklet on the other side. It was a lovely mix of gold and silver. I told her I wanted that one and asked for the price. She refused to give it to me and told me that that particular piece was not on sale. That piece had the colour gold on it. And if she sold it to me, she would have to pay for her sin. Huh? 

What sin are you talking about? She said that anklet contained gold, which should never come in contact with your feet! Eh? So what if it did? And anyway, that is not gold, it is merely golden, I told her. She would simply not get it. Ultimately, I gave up and purchased a silver anklet. 

This incident obviously made the thought wheels churn in my head. Now I am comfortable wearing gold toe rings/anklets and having other forms of gold adornment on my feet, although many Indian cultures do not encourage it. I actually find the opposition a little silly. What is wrong with prettifying your feet with these pricey elements?  I believe my feet are worthy enough.

So you would think I am totally comfortable with my feet and do not subscribe to the ‘feet are disrespectful’ theory, right? Wrong. Because when I prob deeper, I realise how uncomfortable I am with people touching my feet. Oh well, it could also be because my feet are terribly ugly and I am happier if they remain unnoticed. But it is not just that. When an adult touches my feet, I squirm. My mom and dad sit by my side when I am tired a lot of times, and start massaging my feet. I beg them to stop, because I feel bad. However, you will often see me sitting back comfortably with my foot on Mint’s lap while he massages it. Perhaps because he is an equal and my parents are not? So I suppose, I do inherently and subconsciously believe that the feet are disrespectful. This is also evident by the fact that I never let a book touch my feet. I guess it is social conditioning at play here.

Do you believe that feet are disrespectful? If yes, why? I am really curious to know. 

And while we are on the topic of feet, and people touching and massaging them, here is a picture from our trip to Thailand. I never get foot massages done, for the very reason I mentioned above. I feel bad when people touch my feet. But then how could I not get these done in Thailand? This was the first one I got done in Phuket. They rub not just your feet, but your whole leg with with a mix of herbal oil, nivea and some Thai massage cream, which I made sure to purchase. Can you see her pressing those aching veins? What bliss it was! 

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36 Responses to “For foot’s sake!”

  1. Ashwathy said

    Ooooh that massage pic made me nearly forget what I was coming to say 😛

    Interesting topic. Yes, I think it’s mainly social conditioning only. For me atleast. You know…not touching book with the feet. However my family did not believe in the whole no-gold anklets bit so I grew up wearing gold anklets only … its a different matter that I don’t wear any kind of jewellery on the feet now though.

    • Pepper said

      My family too didn’t believe in the no gold on your feet bit. Which is why, I hadn’t even heard of this stuff till I was much older.
      You don’t wear? Oh. I always have anklets on. Not those big ones, but the small dainty ones. Which is funny, because my feet are big and ugly, and not the least bit dainty. But why cares? 😛

  2. Bingo said

    I am allergic to silver so I asked my MIL whether I can wear golden finger ring instead of silver. She refused for what so ever reason mentioned buy the shop lady.

    So, now I am wearing silver whenever she is around with a guilt.

  3. Richa said

    Wow I too wana head to Thailand for that foot massage!
    You know about two years back I was looking for a pair of gold anklet for myself but all I was able to find was in 18carat and that too only one not in a pair. Even in Dubai I was told that it will be difficult to get a pair of gold ones. So I left it at that as I was also looking for a particular design. Later my mom told me that it is not very good to wear gold in your feet and may be that’s the reason for it.

  4. I had once read a very interesting article about why gold should be worn on the upper part of the body and silver on the lower. It has something to do with heating/cooling properties about the metals and how it is conducive to those certain body parts. I cannot find the article as of now. The whole religious aspect was probably created for simple minds.

    • Pepper said

      Okay, a scientific explanation. Now that interests me. Anyway, if it has science behind it, I wish people would just say so. Instead of attributing everything to luck, culture and auspiciousness. Another thing that bothers me is that the people who do follow these ideas, do it not for the science behind it, only for lack of logic, and reasons relating to luck, or respect.

  5. I have never registered that logic. I have let even my great grandfather play with my feet and crack the toes when I was little. I would colour his feet with sketch pens in return.

    That massage looks so heavenly!

  6. hitchy said

    I guess its a part of our conditioning which takes a while to go… one such thing that got drilled into my head was “Aadmi ki aukat ka pata uske jooto se lagta hai” LOL how silly is that… but that ensures I always am careful that my footwear is uptodate atleast for a very long time I used to!

    Alas but now I realise I m most comfortable in slippers and floaters not shoes! 😀

    • Pepper said

      I can see Mint giving you a high five 😀 He hates shoes and will never look at anything other than slippers and floaters if he has a choice. Lol.

  7. Girl you have a sexy leg. I don’t think anything else I can notice in this post 🙂

  8. R's Mom said

    I am like you. Never comfortable with anyone including RD touching my feet. Thats why I never do pedicures and massages!

  9. Boiling said

    Definitely, social conditioning. I feel uncomfortable when I see foreigners touch things with their feet, but I am mostly over it. Maybe I persist due to habit but I was questioning all of this since I was young and found no logic to it.

  10. Psychology ingrained in us and I feel it’s a caste, kinda ostracized thing. There was a time didnt like to wear a short coz didnt like to show ma cleavage.lolz legs and feet. Now, I’m comfy:)

  11. ashreyamom said

    same with me.. may be its pre-conditioned mind. but i am happy with pedicure done or hubby holding my legs. I was asked not to wear gold anklet. though i would love to wear one.

    • Pepper said

      Have you questioned the logic of the people who asked you to not wear it? Maybe they would have an explanation.

      • ashreyamom said

        they said, Gold is treated as Goddess Lakshmi, so it cannot be worn on legs or below the hips. anyways I told my mIL tat if at all she wants me to wear anklet, I will were gold only. It seems only a particular community can only wear gold anklet in Andhra Pradesh..

  12. Ani said

    I think it springs from the varnas. The sudras said to have emerged from the feet are considered impure and hence the association. Thinking about it now, it could be a chicken and egg scenario. But the general associaton could be the reason behind such negativity. We cant discount the fact that hinduism is high on symbolism.

  13. Our feet being considered inauspicious, unhygienic, unlucky or disrespectful – even I still scratch my head to find an answer to this? 🙂

  14. Yvonne said

    I’m actually a German touring India right now and searching online for gold anklets led me to this post. Right now we’re in Hyderabad and our next stops are Bangalore, Mumbai and Rajasthan. I’ve been trying to find gold anklets in Delhi Kolkata Darjeeling and even Simla. I was surprised to find that the country which loves gold so much had absolutely no anklets to offer. The only designs available were too rough for my taste. If you know any jewellery stores in Mumbai/Bangalore that sells gold anklets it would be of enormous help to me. Thank you.

    • Pepper said

      Hi Yvonne! I’m not sure I know places where you can get ready gold anklets, but have you considered asking a local jeweler to get one made for you (based on the design you choose?) A lot of jewelers in India take orders to custom make ornaments and I would think that will be your best bet.

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