Showing respect to the deserving has been crucial in any human society. Of particular interest here is the myriad ways and manners of demonstrating respect.
Depending on the object of attention respectful manners range from politeness or admiration to devotion or reverence. Though demonstrations are central to any human society, as we have just mentioned, we will restrict our observations to India here for the mind-boggling variety as you are set to behold very soon.
Let us classify the objects of respect in order of merit and accordingly describe manners associated in each of them.
Gods and Goddesses: Gods and Goddesses command the supreme respect which means here devotion. At home some salute them in an informal way, but some others fall flat on the ground chanting mantras so manically that neighbors get jerked out any respectful feelings. At temples or other religious places the scenario is almost similar with some following the routine manners and some others falling flat on the floor hitting their heads at the holy altar. In high moments of religious fervor or occasions respect givers totally forget the ones by their sides and pushing-jostling-manhandling becomes the forte of their respectful manners.
Gurus and Teachers: Spiritual gurus and gurus associated with any creative art are held in the next highest esteem. Disciples make it a point never to miss out touching their feet and offerings of coconuts flowers and sweets are made during different occasions. Even when away from their gurus the disciples always touch their ears at the mention of the gurus as an apparent gesture of respectful obedience.
Respect towards teachers is mixed with varying degrees of fear too-particularly at the school level. Students are never supposed to cross the teacher’s path meaning when they see him/her coming they must stand aside respectfully to let them pass. This applies anywhere from the school premises to streets. Even when students are bicycling merrily on the busy street they must disembark the moment they see the teacher coming from the opposite direction. They stand on the street side holding on to their bicycles and they feel divine if the teacher notices and acknowledges.
Elders: Elders here include grandparents, parents, relatives, big brothers and others of merit. Saluting and falling at the feet is fortunately not a daily affair in this class. But on big occasions like your wedding you must be ready to keep on falling at the feet of all related elders from both your and your partner’s sides.
Office Bosses: Bosses are mostly satiated with chanting of ‘Sir or Madam’ in varying degrees of frequency. With your immediate boss you can do by mouthing ‘Sir or Madam’ at the beginning and at the end of your conversation. But as it goes higher you must increase the number of times you call ‘Sir or Madam’ during your courses. When the supreme boss is concerned you must say ‘Sir or Madam’ after every word you utter and keep on saying it after every word s/he utters during your courses.
One observation of paramount importance must be mentioned here. If you steadfastly keep on with respectful manners you can never get bad habits like smoking or drinking and even if you have a bad habit you can kick it off in no time. Mind you, indulging in any kind of such activities is always considered disrespectful.
But one central question remains despite such respectful atmosphere. Why ladies are still so unsafe in the Indian streets? Are females being excluded from male respectful manners? Any possible respectful solution must first be practiced at the night streets of the Indian national capital!