Mark, a friend of mine from United Kingdom, walked straight into my living room with his shoes on. I was surprised and shocked, angered and left frustrated. I was looking at the dirt marks made by his shoes on the clean carpet that stretched to the four corners of the floor. He realized that I was looking intensely at him. Without any hesitation he asked, “Hey, is there something wrong?”
I made him feel comfortable, “Oh! Everything is fine. I am glad you accepted my invitation to come to my house.” In fact, I was angered by his attitude. I even had a sign outside my house that read, “We welcome your soul, not your shoes” and yet, he did not notice it, or he ignored it. He made me realize for the first time that not all people in this world take their shoes off before they enter the house. “How can people wear shoes inside their house?” I thought.
Most of the Asian nations like Japan, China, Nepal and India have the tradition of taking shoes off before entering the house. The traditional houses have a rack for shelving shoes outside the door. Hindu people have been highly influenced by this tradition. While there can be several reasons for taking shoes off before entering the house, the religion in these countries plays a major role for this tradition. Health benefits are important too.
However, health benefits of not wearing shoes may have been the least considered factors when Hindu people made it a religious norm to take shoes off before entering houses. Major reasons are religious rather than health. Hindu people believe that gods reside in their house. Hindu people have some sort of prayer rooms within their house. This implies that they regard their houses as the temples. Hence, entering houses in shoes is not an acceptable norm. So, if one is to step inside the house in their shoes, it is a sign of disrespect to the god. And, it is this fear of angering the god that forbids Hindu people from entering houses in shoes.
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