Why women cover their head in sacred places?

Why women cover their head in sacred places?

All over the world, there are different dress codes and etiquette for different occasions. One would dress in a formal outfit for a wedding, but wear comfortable and casual clothing for shopping, travelling or attending a sporting event.

All cultures have specific rules and regulations for people visiting religious places and participating in religious ceremonies. In most civilizations, covering the head is considered to be a sign of respect, modesty and humility.

Women's head covering

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In Christianity, a tradition that has faded in the horizons of the post-Vatican II era is the practice of women covering their heads in church. Both men and women of the Old Covenant covered their heads in the temple; the custom that only women should cover their heads was preached by the Apostle of the Gentiles. Thus this custom, rooted in Scripture, became a tradition practiced by Catholic women from the earliest days of the Church.

In Islam, both men and women are expected to dress appropriately before visiting a mosque. For women, all skin has to be covered; ankle-length skirts or pants are required; sleeves should reach to each wrist and hair should be covered by a headscarf. The head cover for Muslim women is specifically mentioned in the Quran (24:31). Men have to wear long pants and plain shirts without messages or slogans.

Sikhism, too, has a protocol for both men and women. When entering the Gurudwara one is expected to remove shoes and cover the head as a sign of respect towards the sovereignty of the Guru Granth Sahib. Physiologically, as explained in Sikhism, the greater part of the body’s energy escapes through the head. The top centre of the head, the crown chakra, is a focal point of energy. Strong and sacred vibrations are received by being in the Gurudwara and in the presence of the Guru Granth Sahib. To help retain that energy, heads are covered.

Visiting Hindu Temples

Visitors and worshipers to Hindu temples are required to remove shoes and other footwear before entering. Additionally, it may be customary, particularly at South Indian temples, for men to remove shirts and to cover pants and shorts with a traditional cloth known as a vasthiram.

Most rituals in North Indian temples are very simple in stark contrast to South Indian temples, which have elaborate practices. For example, a strict dress code exists for people who wish to enter the Guruvayur Temple. Men are to wear mundu around their waist, without any dress covering their chest. Girls and women are not allowed to wear any trouser-like dresses or short skirts. They are allowed to wear a sari, and girls are to wear long skirts and blouses. Presently the dress code for women has been relaxed, and salwar kameezes orchuridar pyjamas are being allowed.

North Indian temples often tend to be less orthodox. Like all other temples in India, footwear is strictly prohibited. Unlike in northern India, in Kerala and other southern Indian states, Hindu women do not cover their heads in temples. In traditional north Indian homes, women still cover their head in front of in-laws and elders as a sign of appreciation and respect. Thus, covering the hair in temples is mostly a north Indian custom and is not mandatory. It is an outward sign of displaying feelings of deep respect, humility and gratitude towards the Divine.

By Kumkum 


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15 Responses to "Why women cover their head in sacred places?"

  1. Ashutosh  July 8, 2014 at 6:31 am

    I read the whole article but could not got the answer for the title of the article. Why??????
    Rest all info is already know to world….

  2. Daksha  July 27, 2014 at 4:02 am

    Is it?
    Please be aware, in South India a “Suhagan” would never cover head, I am talking of Hindu Suhagans.
    In North even men cover their head during pooja or when they enter temple.
    Please have full data!

    • Sanskriti  July 27, 2014 at 5:00 am

      Please read the entire article and comprehend the information provided, comparing North and South Indian practices. Please read MORE CAREFULLY next time!

  3. Swami Someshwaranand  September 14, 2014 at 3:45 pm

    The logical reason is, not a single hair should not fall on the sacred places….. Other than respectness and etc…. Even when women serve foods, its an Indian custom to cover heads in front of elders…. Not only 4 respect…. But to control long hair also…..

  4. Preeti Chauhan  September 26, 2014 at 7:52 am

    I am not taking the reason of doing it is respect…there has to be some science (or logic) behind it. Women are forced specially in north India to cover their head as a custom though the trend has changed in educated family but still it exist at majority of places.

    I agree with Swami Someshwaranand reason…its basically for hygiene.

  5. Anurag Misra  February 21, 2015 at 4:16 pm

    Very absurd post. I came in here expecting some sound arguments, but in vain. Next time rather than giving guidelines ground them with some facts please.

    • Sanskriti  February 22, 2015 at 1:11 am

      I don’t understand what is so upsetting about this article. It is merely pointing out the social practices of people from different faiths.

  6. narada  February 21, 2015 at 7:33 pm

    actually, it is known that the head covering custom was brought to india by the muslims. this was confirmed by the gaudiya vaishnava acharya srila bhaktisiddhanta saraswati thakur. this is the reason why it is prevalent in north india, where the muslims dominated, and not present in areas of south india, which were never conquered by the muslims.

  7. Jay  August 9, 2015 at 8:12 pm

    Hindu women wherever they are North or South should not cover their heads in prayer. This practice was a result of the Abrahamic faith influence. It also irritates the heck out me when I see this, and separation of men and women in a temple which is also un-Hindu.

    • nvhgsv  July 14, 2016 at 1:26 am

      you shameless creature, I think you will allow your mother and wife without head cover and allow them to sit near others to enjoy, you animal

  8. Pani  December 19, 2015 at 8:09 am

    In a sacred place it shows respect and humility for a woman to cover her head. As a Muslim I cover my head whenever in public, which of course includes visiting a Mosque to pray. My roommate does not cover as I do, but she does cover when she visits her Catholic church. I wear hijab, she a mantilla, but the reasons are based on same foundation.

  9. sabacynthia  March 31, 2016 at 2:41 am

    i strongly agree with Narada and Jay on this matter. It is the influence of abrahamic religion in india that caused all this socio-sexual segregation. Before the arrival of the abrahamic religions Hindu women were treated and revered highly in society. over the centuries we have been indoctrinated by the wrong notions. On the other hand if it were to be geographical reasons attached to such an act, i would highly agree. e.g. it is better to cover the head from extreme heat/cold etc. but not because God said so…

  10. Lokendra Singh  May 9, 2016 at 6:22 am

    I have read the article and my 2 major views:
    1) the subject of the article does not relate to the content in all respects.
    2) head covering is the Western Culture prevalent in Judaism, Christianity and Islam (religions from similar roots). It is more for the reason of hiding a women’s beauty where her fore head, ears and long hair increases her sex appeal in front of others so that others don’t have different thoughts while interacting with the women and to safe guard her from the lust full eyes of strangers. As rightly mentioned this tradition was forced upon Hindu women as Parda/Nakab but in those days it was also for the protection of Hindu Women from being picked up by Muslim rulers and their army men.
    Later in safer times the complete Parda became a head cover only or in safe places no head cover at all.
    This practice has nothing to do with our Hindu Religion and it is only a tradition and a personal choice/fashion now.

    • Pratibha Mishra  August 10, 2016 at 1:18 pm

      Here is the answer and a perfect end to the discussion above.
      I totally agree with Lokendra. Covering head or parda is just not at all related to Hindu Culture.
      And its just a matter of choice for people to cover their head in sacred places, further from the article I only got justification in Sikhism.

  11. piyush  September 1, 2016 at 2:51 pm

    head covering is not only a tredition ,but women respect also…
    god made women soften then men so it is also necessary to cover head cover


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