How to Visit a Hindu Temple
A journey demands constant learning due, mainly, to the fact that people who go on an adventure to discover other worlds, ways of thinking, beliefs and traditions that exist beyond their borders, must constantly find a way to adapt. In that sense, a specific example of those times when a traveler must learn how to act in a certain way in order to be able to interact with others is when he visits a temple in another country or belonging to a religion that is unfamiliar to him.
For most of the western world, visiting a Hindu temple is not only a novelty but also a once in a lifetime experience. However, not knowing certain rules of the rituals related to these places can cause discomfort or even upset the worshippers. But you needn’t worry; we’ll tell you what to do in order to enjoy your visit without breaking etiquette rules.
Take Off Your Shoes in a Hindu Temple
Before you enter any Hindu temple, you’ll find a shoe rack or several pairs of shoes lined up near the main entrance. You must also remove your footwear and leave it there. But don’t worry; they’ll still be there after you come out.
Diversity in Hinduism
Usually, you’ll find several shrines in a temple, each of them dedicated to different deities. For this reason, it might seem a bit confusing at first to see the correlation between polytheism and monotheism in one single place. This confluence is evidence that Hinduism recognizes unity in diversity, something that DINKtravelers understand quite well through their interaction with the numerous cultures that exist around the world.
Puja Hindu Worship
If you see a priest walking around one of the shrines holding a lamp with lit wicks or candles, it means that he’s carrying out a rite or puja. In it, the priest usually brings the light close to the worshippers who in return place the palms of their hands above the flames and then pull them near their foreheads. According to one of the meanings this ceremony has, the flame symbolizes the soul’s journey through life so, as a traveler, you might feel identified with this ritual.
If you want to, you can participate with an offering. Visitors usually take flowers, fruits, but you must give your offer to the priest without entering the shrines or touching the deities.
For the Hindu, everyone is welcome in the temple so they’ll surely appreciate your interest in their traditions. Therefore, if they offer you a blessed food or prasadam, receive it with your right hand and wait to eat it until you leave the temple.
Photography Restrictions in Hindu Temples
In many temples it’s not allowed to take pictures, so ask before using your camera or follow the instructions on the signage outside the temple.
Our last recommendation is not to think that visiting only one Hindu temple is enough. Each one is a different example of diversity in Hinduism, so they all vary in terms of architecture depending on the region, the philosophical current they belong to or even the historic references they agree with. Namaste!