A notice from Tamil Nadu’s Hindu religious and charitable endowments (HR & CE) department says people dressed in denim pants, leggings and skirts will not be allowed to enter temples henceforth.
According to the circular, come January 1, all temples under the department’s purview puts in place the dress code conforming to the agamas, traditions and customs of each temple, effectively banning relatively modern garments.
Pointing out that these rules are not new, a former commissioner of the HR & CE department said, “Such rules (for Hindu temples) were already in place for many years. Each temple has had its own set of rules. One of the oldest and most important rule is that males should wear only a dhoti, while women should wear sarees. But over the years, the rules were given a go-by. Now, the Madurai bench of the Madras high court has only reinforced these rules.”
The ex-official also cited the Madras Temple Entry Authorization Act 1947 passed by the then Tamil Nadu chief minister, Omandur Ramasamy Reddy, which prescribed the dress code. The Act was more significant for allowing Dalits and other prohibited Hindus full rights to enter temples. It also dictates that no person must enter a temple without a bath.
An official at the Sri Parthasarathy Temple in Chennai said they had received the circular and had put it up, notifying people of its effect from January 1. “We were informed that the deputy commissioner of HR & CE department will send another circular regarding implementation of the same,” the official added.
Another official at Vadapalani Murugan Temple also acknowledged the circular, but authorities are yet to display any notice on the premises.
Just a few weeks ago, the Madurai bench of Madras high court passed an order pertaining to the dress code to be effective from next year. The order noted that ‘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. Short-sleeved shirts are acceptable as long as the sleeves are not shorter than average and in the event of any doubt, it was suggested to wear long sleeves’.