Every culture in the world has its own code of ethics that needs to be followed, while practising it. While many rules are not very stringent, some practices definitely are. One of the world’s oldest religion, Hinduism, has its own culture, with many customs and traditions, the basis of which is love, respect and honouring others.
One of the most important behaviour for Hindus that is inculcated right from birth is respect and reverence for the elders…which could almost equal that to a deity.
While a lot has changed today since Hinduism started to develop, some basic traditions are followed till date. One of them is covering our head in a temple. This ritual is followed more religiously in the temples of North India as compared to South India. Of course, in South India there are other stricter rituals, specially regarding clothing, that are followed.
While removing of any kind of footwear is a norm in all the temples, covering the head is not mandatory for everyone. While most women, specially married ones, do cover their head in the temples in North India, men may or may not do so.
The idea behind covering of head in a temple is a mark of respect, gratitude and humility towards the divine. Incidently, married women in India, are expected to cover their head in front of their father-in-law as a similar form of respect and humility.
When we visit a temple, it is obviously with the intent of obtaining the Divine’s grace and blessings. In a temple’s precincts, vibrations are such that it awakens the energy of the soul(Atma Shakti). This awakened Atma Shakti can get easily discharged through the Brahmarandhra (present on the crown of the head)within seconds if not harnessed usefully. It is for this reason that the head is covered inside a temple.
In some communities, special brocade borders with gold and silver threads, are woven in the sarees worn by women for religious ceremonies. These metals are believed to attract the divine consciousness of the deity. When the woman covers her head with the saree, she places the border of the pallu of the saree exactly on top of her Brahmarandhra and thus is benefited by spiritual awakening.
Some believe that the practice of covering the head among women is because of the Islamic conquest of the Northern region. The women were kept in hiding or would hide their faces when they would step outside their homes, so that the invaders would not be ‘enticed’ to carry them off. So one of the outcomes of the Islamic invasions was the then setting of certain norms and behaviour for the fairer sex, in order to save their honour.
A theory suggested by spiritual leaders is that one can concentrate better on the religious proceedings when the head is covered. It was for this reason that men too would cover their head with turban during religious ceremonies.