What To Wear to a Hindu Temple

The general protocol for entering a Hindu temple is to wear modest dress casual dress for westerners. Hindus having greater respect for their traditions and culture would dress appropriately. please cover your shoulders and knees out of respect, this counts for men and women. men will be allowed to wear trousers, dhoti, kurta, shirts, and women may not be allowed to wear sleeveless clothes. Only full-length pants will be allowed. 

The dress protocols are different in North and South India. Saris or salwar-kameez or skirts for women in both areas. Kurta and pajama for men also in both areas but many of the major temples of the South require men to wear mundu dhoti and remove their shirts. There are some orthodox temples that require men to wear the traditional ‘pitambar’ vastra or dhoti with anga vastra. But an overwhelming majority of temples have no dictate on what to wear.

Other Tips:

  • When you entered you walked left of the bull/garuda (clockwise) and when you exit you take the opposite side.
  • When visiting the temple you might be offered Flower, coconut or bananas. These are offerings and considered an honor. Eat it or pass it on, don’t throw it away.
  • All temples have to be entered barefoot. Hence, please do remove your shoes outside the main entrance. Avoid wearing socks inside the temple complex. Keep your socks along with your footwear outside the temple complex. Socks are considered a part of your footwear so are discouraged.
  • Fold your hands in a respect namaskar when heading to the inner sanctum. The inner sanctum is where the main idol is placed and generally, most people are not allowed into it. 
  • Do not wear leather. As you will appreciate leather is the skin of a dead animal so it is not welcome in Hindu temples. So keep your belt, wallet, and shoes made of leather at home.
  • Some temples allow you to use cameras and video cameras, some charge you a fee and some strictly prohibit any photography and video shooting. Better to make your camera gear very visible as you enter so that if there are any restrictions, the temple authorities will tell you. Also, look for any notice boards displayed at entrance spelling out rules about photo/videography.
  • Most temples are open only in the mornings and evenings. It is advisable to check the timings for each temple before a visit. Some temples may also require a ticket to be bought in advance. Some of the big temples also offer special tickets for a quick darshan/puja.
  • according to Hindu belief, it is necessary to have a bath before going to the temple. Many ancient South Indian temples have a temple tank, known as ‘kalyani’ where people in ancient times used to bathe before entering.
  • It is customary to circumambulate the sanctum sanctorum or the temple in a clockwise fashion. The belief is that God is the essence of our existence and our thoughts and actions should be centered on Him.
  • Be respectful to the religion and show no Display of Affection or PDA which includes no hugging inside the temple.
  • When accepting or giving something, you should use your right hand. The left hand is considered dirty.
  • Generally, we give many offerings to the temple. This could be flowers, fruits, coconut, oil, etc. or money or gold items to be deposited in the hundi. In many temples, there are also lists of vazhipad that can be done. 
  • If prasadam (food offered to the deities, distributed to the visitors) are offered in the temple, it is best advised to have it after coming out of the temple. While inside, you can have it, but make sure you eat small portion as much that doesn’t fall off from your mouth. Also, avoid licking the fingers, when food sticks to hands.
  • There are often instances of pickpocketing in temples. So make sure to hold on tight to your bag/purse/wallet and mobiles. Backpacks are unsafe and they can be easily opened from the backside and stuff taken out. Same goes for the wallets kept in back pockets of your trousers. 

Tips for the Forginer / non-Hindu's:

If you are attending a puja, just stand politely. After the puja is finished, you may be offered some food or someone may want to make a mark on your forehead. Both of these are fine for you to accept or reject as you are comfortable, 

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