(51) What is Charan Sparsh?
Charan Sparsh is a commonly practiced Hindu ritual of bowing down to someone else and touching their feet in reverence. The literal translation of Charan Sparsh is ‘feet touching’. Charan means ‘feet’ and sparsh means ‘touch.’
Charan Sparsh is generally performed by touching the feet of one’s parents, elders, teachers, noble people and sadhus with both hands. The elder in turn blesses one by placing his or her hand on or over one’s head. It is a ritual that is performed daily when we meet elders, particularly on important occasions like the beginning of a new task, birthdays, festivals, New Year’s day, etc. In certain traditional circles, charan sparsh is accompanied by abhivãdana - introducing oneself or announcing one’s family and social stature.
What is the sentiment behind charan sparsh and why do we do it?
Performing charan sparsh of another person is a sign of respect for the age, maturity, nobility and/or divinity of that person. It symbolizes our recognition of their selfless love for us and the sacrifices that they have made for our welfare. It is a way of humbly acknowledging the greatness of another. This tradition reflects the strong family ties which have been one of India’s enduring strengths.
The sankalp (good wishes) and ashirwad (blessings) of elders are highly valued in India. We do charan sparsh to seek them. Good thoughts create positive vibrations. Good wishes springing from a heart of love, divinity and nobility have tremendous strength. When we do charan sparsh with humility and respect, we invoke the good wishes and blessings of elders which flow in the form of positive energy to envelop us. This is why the posture assumed, whether it is in the standing or prone position, enables the entire body to receive the energy.