Dress codes are part of almost every regulatory body, from schools to office buildings. What about places of worship? Looks like that may be the case in the state of Karnataka. The Dakshina Kannada district of Karnataka State Dharmik Parishat, a government religious body that manages more than 211 temples, has decided to implement a dress code for devotees. The religious body has issued banners as a means of making it mandatory for people. According to Harinarayan Asranna, a priest, devotees will be required to adhere to an appropriate dress code that respects Hindu cultural values. ‘Saree is preferred for women and they should be worn in a way that covers her bosoms properly. For men also we are deciding’, he said.
Hindu nationalist organization Bajrang Dal has also urged temples in Dakshin Kannada to abide by the dress code. Karnataka State Dharmik Parishad will implement the dress code in phases and staggered manners after receiving approval from the government. As of now, the umbrella body has made traditional dress mandatory at two temples in the Dakshina Kannada district. The dress code has been implemented at Kateel Durgaparameshwari temple and Polali Rajarajeshwari temple, respectively.
The Times Of India reports that the religious body has the responsibility of making recommendations on conducting rituals, pujas, and on issues related to the dress code of devotees visiting the temples. The Hindu religious institutions, as well as the charitable endowments, must first accept the recommendations made by the Karnataka State Dharmik Parishad. The Cabinet will then review the recommendations. For regulatory bodies, a dress code makes complete sense, but moral policing over women, in particular, seems excessive.