Touching the feet of elders is an age-old Indian tradition that is considered to be a mark of respect. This gesture can be seen in almost all Hindu families, both in India and abroad. In fact, some Bollywood movies and daily soaps have also depicted this common practice.
Firstly, touching the feet of elders is a form of pranam (greeting). Namaste is another popular form of greeting somebody. Foot touching, however, is a form for the young to greet the elder.
Secondly, the saying “every time you bow you receive a blessing” is a part of Hindu philosophy. Certainly, the elders bless the younger one when the latter bends to touch their feet. “Sada Khush Raho” (Stay content forever) or more traditionally “Ayushman Bhava” (May you live long) is a common response to the traditional act. Therefore, while it may seem odd to the other cultures when they witness this act, it is eternal to the Hindu culture. Of course, like any other ritual, touching the elder’s feet should not be imposed upon the young person, rather, should come from within.
Usually, the person whose feet you are touching is either old or pious. When they accept your respect which came from your reduced ego (and is called your shraddha) their hearts emit positive thoughts and energy (which is called their karuna) which reaches you through their hands and toes. In essence, the completed circuit enables the flow of energy and increases cosmic energy, switching on a quick connection between two minds and hearts.