Almost all temples in the southern part of India follow a strict dress code for the men and women visiting the temple. Kollur Mookambika is no different and it follows a very stringent dress code for both men and women. The men are not allowed inside the temple with upper garments on. That is no shirts, vests, hats, ties, or western pants are allowed inside the temple premises.
Men are required to take all their upper clothes off and wear a white dhoti with upper body either bare or covered with a white kurta to enter the garbhagrih of the temple.
The rules are stricter for women who are not allowed in pants or western wear at all. They must be wearing a saree with a proper blouse, or a Kurta with a Punjabi and a dupatta. Earlier even chooridars were not allowed inside the temple premises and women had to wear a dhoti over the chooridar or a half saree to be able to get inside for a darshan. Women are still advised to cover their chooridars with a dhoti before entering the temple. All western wear like jeans, skirts, short tops, and shorts are strictly prohibited inside the temple premises.
Why a Strict Dress Code- Beliefs Behind
A temple is considered to be a place of sanctity and religious importance. It is the abode of the goddess and anyone coming to offer their gratitude and respect should come in front of the goddess humbly, and in a sober way. The temple administration believes that while visiting a place, one should keep in mind the cultural and religious heritage of that spot and dress judiciously according to the customs and beliefs there. It is thus expected of the visiting people that they respect the traditions of the temple and oblige by following the dress code.
The Mookambika temple dress code is easy to follow. The temple does not mean to strip people of their freedom to choose what to wear, but it asks their attire to be in accordance with the customs of the temple's ancient tradition. Men are required to be bare-bodied, only wearing a dhoti when they enter the sacred sanctum of the temple. This is in accordance to the local culture of the place that the yajmaan wears nothing on the upper body and covers the lower body with a white dhoti only.
The women are allowed to wear anything that is decent and not very revealing. It is expected that a common code of decency will be maintained for the sake of the cultural heritage of the place and hence, western dresses that show too much skin are not allowed inside the temple. Women in our culture have been expected for ages to cover their bodies gracefully and maintain their dignity and sanctity. The goddess Mookambika who herself is the manifestation of the supreme female power is a woman, too. And hence every woman entering the temple is considered to be a daughter of the goddess and is shown equal respect to. Our culture too places women equal to devis and teaches to respect them with due privilege and honour their pride. It is thus mandatory for the women inside the temple to maintain the dignity of their attire and mannerisms and manifest the grace of the goddess.
The temple authorities are liberal with women's attire as long as it is sober and not vulgar. Chooridars and Punjabis are allowed on Kurtas with a dupatta to cover the head. The women can be asked to cover their chooridars with a dhoti sometimes. Sarees are preferable for women devotees with a proper blouse.