What dress to wear in Indian Hindu temples - New dress code for temples in Tamil Nadu

A new dress code is coming in to effect from January 1, 2016 to enter the Hindu temples in Tamil Nadu state of India. Read further to learn more about the dress code in Hindu temples in India.

Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments (HR & CE) department has issued a notice to the temples under its control to strictly enforce a dress code for entering the temples in Tamil Nadu. Other temples that do not fall under the government control should come up and enforce their own dress code. Also, the temples across the states in India have its own rules and policies regarding the dress code.

A general practice in the majority of the temples in India is to discourage the use of any sort of western dress, including shorts, t-shirts and other dress that expose the legs. Some temples don't even allow jeans and many other temples demand men remove the shirts while entering the temple and women wear the traditional Indian Saree. There is no standard dress code across the temples in the country.

HR & CE notice has cited the order of Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court pertaining to dress code for men and women. The dress code suggested by the high court is nothing new but has been traditionally followed in most of the temples in the state. However, in recent times, many temples have been flexible in allowing modern dress like jeans, leggings, t-shirts etc. With the dress code that comes into effect from Jan 1, 2016, only traditional dress will be allowed in the temples in Tamil Nadu, subject to local customs and traditions in Hindu temples in India.

Dress code in Temples

Dress TypeAllowed/Not allowed
JeansNot allowed
ShortsNot allowed
LeggingsNot allowed
SkirtsNot allowed
T-shirts/sleeveless topsNot allowed
LungisNot allowed
Formal pantsAllowed in most temples
Half SareesAllowed
ChuridarAllowed (not allowed in some temples)
ShirtsAllowed for men in some temples and not allowed in many other temples

Dress code for men in Tamil Nadu temples

High court order suggests that men should wear a "dhoti or pyjama with upper cloth or formal pants and shirts" to temples. Temples that do not allow upper cloth for men may continue to follow that custom. Some temples may not allow leather belts and purses. Footwear is not allowed inside the temples. Jeans, shorts and lungis are prohibited.

Dress code for women in temples in Tamil Nadu

According to the court order, women should wear "a sari or a half sari or churidhar with upper cloth." Footwear is not allowed inside the temples for women. Jeans, leggings and other inappropriate clothes are also not allowed.

Dress code for children

The high court doesn't prescribe any specific dress code for children. Children may wear any fully covered dress. Footwear is not allowed for children as well. Individual temples may have their own rules for children.

Exceptions and special customs

Even though the high court order has suggested a specific dress code, the HR & CE department has suggested the temples under its control to enforce dress code according to the traditions, culture and local customs, in alignment with the directions from the high court.

According to the court order, temples where men were prohibited from wearing an upper cloth could continue the practice.

Some temples do not allow leather belts and leather purses. HR & CE department has not made a decision on such cases. HR & CE department has not introduced any new rules, but has directed the temples to strictly enforce their traditional dress code and customs.

The essence of both the court order and HR & CE directions is to enforce a dress code in the temples but allow the temples to choose any appropriate dress code according to the traditions, culture and local customs.

The Tamil Nadu Temple Entry Authorisation Act, 1947, which controls entry to the temples in the state, states: "No person shall enter into temple premises unless he has had a bath and wears clothes of such materials and in such manner as is customary in such temple. No person shall enter a temple with any footwear."

How the dress code will affect the tourists

Some famous temples in Tamil Nadu get a lot of foreign visitors and some of the temples were flexible on allowing modern dress including jeans, leggings, shorts etc. With the new order from the high court and directions from HR & CE department, tourists may not be able to visit any of the temples in Tamil Nadu in the dress of their choice.

If you are a traveller and planning to visit the temples in Tamil Nadu, be sure to carry some traditional dress like dhoti, saree, pyjama, churidar etc to avoid unnecessary hassles.

Reference: http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/madras-hc-prescribes-dress-code-at-temples/article7938275.ece


Author: MR KRISHAJIT BARUAH30 Dec 2015 Member Level: Bronze   Points : 2

Many temples in Tamilnadu have their own rules. It is a good idea to have a uniform dress code in all temples. People are coming to the temple to pray and not to show their dress. I strongly support the court order to enforce uniform dress code in the temples.

Author: Manjunath Bhat26 Mar 2016 Member Level: Bronze   Points : 5

Temples are holy places and not just some tourist attractions. Due to many reasons they even attract tourists and some of these come only to see the place and not for worshiping. Some people have the tendency of questioning of everything including the dress code for temples. This is a welcome decision of the honourable High Court. The legal sanctity behind the code will make it easier to enforce. Further, it helps in preserving the customs and traditions. This article will be a great help for tourists to understand what dress to wear in Indian Hindu temples.

Guest Author: Venkiteswaran12 Jun 2016

A very relevant article for those going on pilgrimage to Tamil Nadu temples. If someone who had visited TN temples some five or six years ago visits the state again and wants to visit temples, then he may be for some inconvenience unless he is aware of the new dress code for temples in Tamil Nadu.

Faith and beliefs may not be rational and logic and reason may not get acceptability with some in such situations. So straight compliance is the best way to avoid loss of time and money. I had an experience in this regard with Tirupathi temple announcing such dress code for the first time. I was lucky that I saw the new guidelines in the TV channel connected to the temple. That time the code was compulsory only for those who booked the ticket online. It defied all logic. But there were many people who did not know about what dresses to wear in Indian hindu temple and had to buy new dresses at heavy costs by those selling the same along the queue.

In that context, this article is worth.

Guest Author: mytravelshanti20 Jan 2017

Nice Content writing and provide full information about Dress Code in Tamil Nadu temples. It will surely be a great helps to the ones who make a first time visit and doesn't know about the dress codes in Tamil Nadu temples.

Guest Author: Ram14 Dec 2018

Too much importance to a silly thing like clothes when there are many more profound reasons to go to a temple. I understand that formal is better than casual; well groomed is better than unkempt; neat appearance better than untidy/sloppy.

Unsure how "Veshti" & "Angavastram" meet all of today's needs of carrying ID-proof and perhaps Address-proof. I prefer clothes with pockets. Yester-years, people probably plucked flowers and took these-flowers to temple. Today I buy everything on way to temple and so today I want clothing that allows me to carry money.

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