Rituals & Practices

Why women cover their head in sacred places?

Hindu women head cover
Hindu women head cover

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 

20 Comments

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  • 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….

  • 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!

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

  • 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…..

  • 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.

  • 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.

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

  • 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.

  • 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.

    • 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

  • 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.

  • 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…

  • 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.

    • 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.

  • nice
    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

  • Posters have missed something important in this article — the head covering was originally used by both men and women as a means to prevent the natural flow of energy at the top crown of the head (chakra) from leaving the body while at church. People wanted that energy retained to maintain Hu, or Godhead connection while worshipping. The energy is light and sound vibration that connects consciousness to our creator. It is the essence of meditative experience which installs joy, ecstasy, peace and love. This energy was heightened in ancient times by certain hertz notes such as the famous magic chord of David (444 hz or close to a B flat). Gregorian chanters in the church sang these notes regularly at worship which caused euphoria, insight, healing, awakening and love experiences. Pope Gregory realized that the reaction to the sounds, vs the message of the word, gave the individual power to each parishioner to be enlightened without the church. He prevented the chanters from ever using the specific note sounds again and confiscated all written music so that these gifts from God would be cut out of mankind. It is said that the music sheets were preserved and are in the Vatican today.

    Man’s technological strides over the many years since he was pulled away from his creator, gave him knowledge to rediscover the God notes through computerized assistance. Recordings of the proper hz sounds are now available and no doubt many choirs and musical groups will adapt and will be performing the ancient vibrations to crowds one again.

    You can see why churchgoers covered their heads to keep the vibrations within. It enhanced the living God experience for peak enlightenment.

  • In the colder places people cover the head, wear shawl, sweater and do puja.. but south is hotter n not required.. simple logic .. that’s it.. and without understanding the logic people are blindly following everywhere in the north ..

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