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Saturday, February 09, 2013

Appropriate Attire for temples

Temples are very different environments to those that most westerners are used to, and in most cases a new experience. Sri Lanka is home to 1000's of temples, of all sizes, you are most likely to see one everywhere you go. Certainly a lot of the must go places in Sri Lanka are either temples or or religious significance.

I have seen many unhappy tourists turning around and having to go back, mostly because they were not dressed appropriately for the venue. So here are a few ground rules and tips.

When going to a temple make sure you are wearing, either jeans, trousers or any sort of long bottoms what will fall below your knees ( this is more of a cultural thing in Sri Lanka than it is Buddhist, as it varies from country to country, for example there is in general no such rule in Thailand, where the practiced buddhism is the same.). I generally wear jeans, if you do not want to wear jeans, then purchase from a local store or ask your tour guide if you have one for a sarong which can be used to cover up.

Do not wear sleeveless tops, the general rule is wear at least a t-shirt on top or a shirt which is short sleeved or long sleeved. this applies to ladies too, you can use a cloth to wrap around your shoulders. Believe it or not I was once rejected entry as i was wearing a sleeveless top.

When entering temple, remember to take off your shoes and socks, and caps or hats.

Other than this, important facts include.
  • Do not consume alcohol inside a religious site, or do not enter while intoxicated
  • Do not smoke
  • Do not make lots of noise or play loud music
  • No public displays of affection other than holding hands
Another thing that quite a few unfortunate (or disrespectful) tourist have done recently is to take pictures with Buddha statues with their back faced to the statue or worse actually sitting on statues or in some extreme cases trying to kiss the statue (Read more here) , there are ways in which you can get pictures of the Buddha statues with your self included, please see the instructions board or ask your guide, generally you being to your side or looking at the statue is acceptable.

So make sure you know the dress code before you visit certain places. Asking a local is the best way to find out which places of interest have such rules. As a general rule of thumb, most places in the Anuradhapura and Polonaruwa areas and Kandy will have this rule.

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