From January 1, people dressed in denims, leggings and skirts, will not be allowed to enter temples in Tamil Nadu.
According to a circular from Tamil Nadu’s Hindu religious and charitable endowments (HR & CE) department, all temples under the department’s purview have put in place the dress code conforming to the agamas, traditions and customs of each temple.
However, such rules are not new.
As per Rule 4 of the Tamil Nadu Temple Entry Authorisation Act, 1947, it 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.”
A former commissioner of the HR & CE department said:
“Each temple has had its own set of rules. One of the oldest and most important rules is that men should wear only a dhoti, while women should wear sarees. But over the years, the rules were given a go-by.”
The notice comes after the Madras High Court order that prescribed a dress code for the people visiting temples.
Justice S. Vaidyanathan ordered that from January 1, men should wear a dhoti or pyjama with upper cloth or formal pants and shirts to temples and women should wear a sari or a half sari with blouse or churidhar with upper cloth. Children could wear ‘any fully covered dress.’
The court further ruled:
“Sleeves should reach to each wrist and the hair should be covered by a headscarf. Pants or skirts that are too revealing, clingy, or tight should not be worn and the dress permissible to men for worship is that they should wear long pants and plain shirts without messages or slogans when visiting mosques.”
Sri Parthasarathy temple in Chennai had put up the notice, notifying people of its effect from January 1.
The temple official said, “We were informed that the deputy commissioner of HR & CE department will send another circular regarding the implementation of the same.”
An official at Vadapalani Murugan Temple said that they have received the notice, but they are yet to display it on the premises.
Also, leather belts and purses are not allowed in some temples. Men are even asked to remove shirts.
“We follow the Kerala pattern and have nine kaala poojai. Only Pothis (Nambudiris) can perform puja in the sanctum sanctorum,” said Kottai Manikandan, an official at the Tiruchendur Murugan temple.