10 Ways To Be Respectful In A Hindu Temple
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Even though Hindu Temples are the epicentre of culture, architecture and volumes of history that textbooks can only construct to some extent, they are mainly centres of worship. Owing to the fact that they are centres of prayer and purity for Hindus, there is a significant value attached to the sanctity of these temples. This manifests itself particularly in the form and manner in which one conducts himself within the temple premises. Regardless of your origin – whether you are Hindu or otherwise, visiting a temple requires a certain amount of respectful conduct. Here are 10 things you should follow ideally, while visiting a temple.
1. Cleanliness is Godliness: The ideal way to enter a temple is after having a bath, and dressed in clean clothes. The idea is that you approach the temple with a sense of decorum, for you enter the abode of God, which is the centre of purity.
2. No footwear, please! Hindu Temples expect one ground rule to be adhered to in completeness – i.e., no shoes allowed. Usually, temples have designated shoe racks outside with a custodian to keep an eye.
3. Enter the temple with your right leg first: While most people may be quick to dismiss this, it is generally all about making the right kind of beginnings. Enter the temple with your right leg first, to make and establish an auspicious start.
4. Make Offerings: Oftentimes, a visit to a temple will show you how many little stores and kiosks thrive outside of it, helping devotees to make the right kind of offerings to the deity they are visiting. While making an offering is completely discretionary in most temples, certain temples require devotees to make a minimal offering – and this can be anything from fruits and money, to pieces of cloth and coconuts, or even particular kinds of lamps. There is no compulsion to make an offering – but doing so is one of the ways to be respectful of the temple’s protocols.
5. Avoid photography and videography: A temple is a place of worship, one where people come for solace and a sense of inner peace and calmness. Their immediate need is to find a space to ruminate and be close to the God of their choice, and naturally, therefore, it becomes exceptionally important for them to have that respect.
6. Silence is Golden: A temple is essentially a place of vibrations and energy – therefore, people come to the spot to feel a sense of calmness and to attune themselves to that strong vibration and energy in a way that rejuvenates and strengthens them. The more you observe in silence, the more you gain from your visit, for the temple space speaks to you through its vibrations and powerful peace.
7. Follow the protocol in circumambulation: Given that temples are spaces that centre vibrations and energy in a particular manner, the circumambulation of the idols in the temple are to be taken up in a clock-wise manner, and there is a scientific basis in doing so.
8. Worship right: There are specific protocols for each Hindu temple, which you may choose to indulge in or otherwise. Either way, always make it a point to join your palms in a namaste while looking at the idol, and hold your palms before your heart.
9. Be respectful of the priests: The temple staff, or the priests, officiate on behalf of you and help you perform protocols necessary for worship. However, there are certain enclosures that temples keep for priests alone, and cordon off entry for others.
10. Don’t litter the temple! Just as your own environment requires a basic sense of cleanliness, never litter a Hindu temple. If you have extra kumkum, vibhudhi, flowers or other prasada, ask for scraps of paper that are always made available in temples, and pack them up into them to take them out. As for prasada, donate it to the needy, or feel free to offer it in a spirit of brotherhood and sharing to any of the other visitors in the temple if you would rather not take it home with you.
To know about the Hindu temples across the world, visit www.ishtadevata.com
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