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Updated by Joanna James on May 02, 2024
Headline for How to Dress for Temples in Sri Lanka- Minimal design, maximum cover
Joanna James Joanna James
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How to Dress for Temples in Sri Lanka- Minimal design, maximum cover

As the saying goes, there is a time and place for everything, and obviously, this applies to clothing. What you choose to wear during a holiday is quite taxing but adding cultural or religious spots to that packing list is going to be mind-boggling indeed. To know what to wear during a cultural visit when in Sri Lanka, rea d on.


Simplicity is the key

Buddhism teaches one to let go of worldly possessions and to value mindfulness over materialism. This simplicity is manifested even in the religious observances and practices with devotees entering all temples in white or light colours. Ornate clothes or those studded with jewels, dark colours, flashy designs and revealing attire are best avoided. There are instances when people stop by the temple en route to work or school or unexpectedly; thus, temples are accommodating and receptive when people walk in wearing slightly vivid colours, but no devotee would walk in unless modestly clad. Thus, it is important for you to choose your attire wisely when setting out to visit a temple. If it so happens that you have not brought your white shirt or skirt, it is acceptable to replace it with a cream or light coloured one and proceed. Some temples have vendors selling shawls and baggy tops right outside of them, so you might not have to go all the way back to your hotel to grab an appropriate outfit.


Don’t look at the weather

This is a country that does seem to enjoy summer all year round, but one would notice that at no point of the day and under no circumstances would a local be seen in summer type clothes or beach attire at the temple. If you are staying at luxury hotels in Kandy Sri Lanka the likes of Cinnamon Citadel Kandy, you can wear what you want within the premises, but once outside, the formal is preferred. It is quite magical to see the transformation; everyone rushes to look clean and spotless, their hair is combed and kept neatly in place and a simple pair of flip-flops or slippers come on as they step out to pay homage to their religion. Clothes that cling onto the body too much, those which are a tad transparent, and those with unexpected slits and cuts should not be worn. The simpler and more straightforward the clothing, the more acceptable it probably is.


Maintain the respect

Temple premises are entered into sans any footwear or headgear as a means of displaying one’s respect to the enlightened one; the Buddha, his doctrine; the dhamma and his disciples; the sangha. There are tiny shoe rooms at the entrance of most prominent temples such that devotees need not leave their footwear in ad hoc places. The service is considered meritorious thus no fees are levied for safeguarding shoes or footwear, but it is deemed appropriate to offer a donation. Such amounts are usually channelled towards the development of the temple and to provide a small stipend to those who man the shoe counter.


The place matters

While being conservative at all times essential, the rules become a bit more stringent when it comes to special temples like the Dalada Maligawa. The authorities prefer that both ladies and gentlemen wear clothes with sleeves and attire that well and truly covers the legs. In case one is not appropriately attired when approaching the gates of the temple, the gatekeepers have sarongs and shawls that are lent to visitors. This is merely a facility available but should not be unnecessarily exploited as it displays one’s lack of respect and reverence for the country’s people and their values.

  • A true believer that the pen is a mighty weapon, ventures into reaching the minds of every reader with the earnest hope of leaving an indelible stream of thought.

    A travel writer who has a passion for fashion and a deep interest in admiring new and exotic attractions around the world.

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