Take the 2-minute tour ×
Hinduism Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for followers of the Hindu religion and those interested in learning more about Hinduism. It's 100% free, no registration required.

Why is it that people don't wear shoes and sandals when they visit a temple? Sometimes they remove them outside of temple premises and sometimes outside of the temple steps...

It's a common practice amongst Hindu people whenever they visit a dharmik sthal/temple, so what's the reason behind removing footwear outside?

And is there a rule to do so, or do people just follow a common norm?

Footwear outside temple

Credits for the image: double-barrelledtravel.com

share|improve this question
    
From where should we remove shoes? What can be the start of temple? the stairs or from where roof starts? Some temples does not have long roof but people start removing shoes from stairs only. Is that true to remove shoes from stairs or from roof only? Can I ask this question on stack overflow or you integrate it in your question? –  Parth Trivedi Nov 8 '14 at 7:37
    
Also I want to know what is written in scriptures related to shoes? –  Parth Trivedi Nov 8 '14 at 7:42
    
@ParthTrivedi according to me those are non standard questions and doesn't make any sense, as far as this question goes, it was asked when we were drafting rules for the site, so if you are going to compare yours with mine then don't –  Mr. Alien Nov 8 '14 at 13:31
    
Is this question valid according to the rules of this site? hinduism.stackexchange.com/questions/3650/… –  Parth Trivedi Nov 8 '14 at 14:39

7 Answers 7

up vote 17 down vote accepted

Temples are holy places. Footwears have dirt on them which could make the temple floor dirty. Hence, as a respect towards God's place, people leave their footwear outside. Even people should be clean when entering a temple; for example, in some places, people gargle with water if they have eaten something a few hours before visiting the temple.

Also, this is not just applicable to temples, but this is also a common practice amonst people not wearing footwear in their homes.

Usually, Temple authorities display a board which says "Footwears are strictly prohibited" as our temples can be visited by people of other religions who may not be aware/care of this respect shown by Hindus.

share|improve this answer
1  
removing footwear is a common element in Asian culture, Japanese, Korean and Chinese alike. –  Vineet Menon Jul 1 '14 at 7:53

To clarify some more things (rightly pointed out by Mr_Green), we CAN take footwear inside a temple.

The footwear allowed inside a temple is called Khadau.

Enter image description here

It is purposely used by priests, and those who work inside the temple.

A Khadau is essentially the old style footwear. It is made of wood.

Modern day footwear are not considered holy as these are. We now make footwear with things mostly prohibited to take in use. They also get dirty soon enough.

There is perhaps, more to this. Wooden footwear keep the mind cool and are insulators of electricity and heat (wood used to make footwear doesn't catch fire!).

So, footwear is allowed in temples, but not "modern footwear", due to the above stated reasons...

share|improve this answer
    
This is perhaps the same reason, why some sacred rituals require men to only wear dhoti and janeyu, nothing else. –  Awal Garg Jul 1 '14 at 14:10
    
Excellent addon to the main answer, I am glad that you didn't wrote scientific reasons, as we are in a debate on meta over science answers –  Mr. Alien Jul 1 '14 at 14:13
4  
just a point, the khadau slippers will not be allowed in temples if they are used outside of temple. link. good answer. –  Mr_Green Jul 1 '14 at 14:22
    
@Mr_Green you really think someone would wear a khadau outside a temple? :P ...good point though :) –  Awal Garg Jul 1 '14 at 14:23

Generally footwear is made up of leather. In the Hindu religion they are considered to be an impure thing. One more thing is that the temple is a holy place where everyone worship. And footwear also consists of outer dirt as Mr_Green has mentioned in his answer. So we can't take those dirty shoes inside that holy place.

In temples not only footwear needs to be removed. The upper cloth, that is, your shirt and t-shirt also need to be removed as for worship with Dhoti.

share|improve this answer

Footwear irrespective of it being made from leather/rubber etc has to be removed mainly because of dirt that comes along... most temples even in Europe/North America also have feet washing facilities at the temple entrance. That said, Even Hindu temples in North america does not allow shoes inside inspite of cold weather,but you are allowed to wear socks P.S: Most Indians (irrespective of religion) remove footwear before entering a house to keep their home clean.

share|improve this answer

In South Indian temples, usually there would be turmeric or sandalwood paste like items which happens to be on floor. These are of medicinal values and could help legs in one way or another. So in addition to the idea of respect, there could be a hidden intention.

share|improve this answer

In almost all the holy places of worship, it is believed that the cosmic energy from the cosmos is swirling around, by virtue of the place being a meeting point of energies, or by virtue of continued practice of prayer/meditation/ rituals/etc at that point in the temple or place of worship. This is the reason why we feel a sort of peace and quiet when we enter some temple, since that place is saturated with the vibrations of so many prayers/mantras/divine thoughts, which draw the cosmic energy into that place. The person who enters the holy place, becomes a conductor of that cosmic energy. It is believed that when that cosmic energy enters the person, it can cause drastic changes in the person’s physical and astral body if the person does not pass out the energy to the ground. Even though the cosmic energy is positive and beneficial, it is believed that not all human bodies are equipped to handle that kind of energy. (Some pranic healers even avoid healing babies because of this reason).

Just as a building is fitted with a lightning rod, which is connected to the ground to “earth” the electricity flowing out of lightning, the human body needs to earth the cosmic currents, which is why, many schools of thought suggest walking barefoot on dewed grass or ground early in the morning to “reconnect” with the earth energy. This is said to not only activate the earth chakra in the human body, but also to release the negative energy from our body to the ground.

And this is the main reason why in places of worship, one is required to take off their sandals or shoes. When the cosmic energy passes through the person, the person is cleansed of any diseased or negative energy by the positive cosmic energy. But I must add here that the same anology of positive energy also applies in the case of negative energy. Which is why, one should always WEAR FOOTWEAR in a place of possible negative energy, like a crematorium, graveyard, etc.

share|improve this answer
    
How crematorium and graveyard generate negative energy? –  Ankit Sharma Jan 21 at 8:09

Shoes are not clean since they go everywhere. Since a temple is a clean place with pure energies, we leave unclean things outside.

Detailed Answer:

There are a few views offered on this subject. Shoes go everywhere and can collect unwanted energies. To keep them out of the temple shoes are left outside. Second, generally temple practices encourage minimum amount of covering, subject to what would be considered decent in the respective social setting. This may be related to the ability for energy interchange – the temple being a highly energized place. In that context, among various parts of the body, the soles of the feet are considered points of significant interchange of energy. This way when one walks in the temple bare foot, the interchange of energy gives the bliss and high of being in the temple. While the two views noted above are the popular reasons for not wearing footwear inside the temple, there are some additional observations worth noting with regard to footwear use in temples. 

There are certain temples in northern India that allow wooden Paadukas to be worn during winter months. In fact, the temple itself provides the wooden Paadukas for a small fee, essentially ensuring that the footwear that goes everywhere outside the temple does not come into the temple. In Udupi Krishna temple, the eight Acharyas only [not devotees] are allowed wooden Paadukas anywhere in the temple premises except in the shrine area itself.Morden footwear is made out of leather mostly, leather comes from a cow! Hindus & tamils are not allowed to eat beef.We worship a cow as a mother because a cow gives us milk & its a holy animal.we are not allowed to eat pork because its the filthiest animal but most hindus/tamils still eat it, its not as bad as eating beef. So you cannot wear anything leather in most temples or go close to anyone with trans wearing leather. Shoes are forbidden because we not allowed to take the dirt into the temple.

share|improve this answer

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.