Us Punjabis cover the head with handkerchief in temples and even during home worship (panchopchar puja) but I haven't seen others do it

I was wondering whether we have any scriptures which hints at it or is it borrowed from Sikhism? (usually non-turban wearing Sikhs cover their heads in the Gurudwara with rumaal)

1 Answer 1


Hindus are not required to cover their heads while worshipping. However, scriptures maintain that the top knot (Shikha-the tuft of the hair at the top of one's head) has to be maintained. If this Shikha is not there then one is considered to be "naked from the top". So, the Shikha itself acts as a head-cover.

The necessary quote for the above point is taken from this answer and is given below:

In the Prayoga Ratna of the author of Nirnaya Sindhu :—" The tuft should be in the middle of the head, but of the Vasisthas towards right, and of Atri and Kasyapa clans, on both sides." So also in the Madhaviya. But Apastamba says : — "He combs the hair silently, and arranges the locks in the fashion of his ancestral Risis." (Ap. G. S. YI. 1ft. 6). According to the number of Pravara and Risi at the time of initiation all these locks except the middle one are cut, from all different directions. " He shaves his hair with the different Mantras, towards the different (four) directions." (Ap. IV. 10. 6.) The middle lock (called Sikha par excellence) should however be never cut for Sruti prohibits it, and so also the Smriti :—" He is as if naked and uncovered who is totally shaven, this Sikha is his covering." *' A person without sikha and without sacred thread cannot perform any sacred rite, for all that he does is unfructuous."

However, one is required to cover their heads when urinating and voiding excrement - that is during such acts which are considered as "unclean".

He should go about with his head uncovered during the day 36 and covered at night. 37 He should cover his head also when he is voiding urine or excrement,

Gautama Dharmasutras 9.35-37

In contrast, it is condemned if one eats with his head wrapped or covered with a cloth. And, eating is considered as a form of Yajna (an act of worship) in Hinduism.

  1. To eat one's meals with his head wrapped round, or with his face towards the south, or with his hand on his left foot, or while he is standing up — is to imitate the manners of the Rakshasa class of beings.

Parashara Smriti, Chapter 1, Verse 59

Manu Smriti 3.238. What (a guest) eats, covering his head, what he eats with his face turned towards the south, what he eats with sandals on (his feet), that the Rakshasas consume.

And, while performing Achamana (the first purificatory rite performed before all Hindu rituals) too, one should not keep one's head covered.

Three times he should sip water sufficient to reach his heart––without laughing, talking, standing, or looking around; without bowing his head or stooping; never with his topknot untied, his neck wrapped, or his head covered;

Baudhayana Dharma Sutras 1.8.18-19

So, from all these references we can conclude that it is not mandatory for Hindus to keep their heads covered while performing auspicious acts like worshipping or even eating.

One should do so though while doing acts like urinating.

  • Implies head should be covered during religious acts (for non-Shikha wearers) & also sleeping time (Gautama Dharmasutras) but >double handkerchief should be worn while attending nature's call, am i right?
    – user22928
    Feb 7, 2021 at 4:27
  • I don't have any scriptural quote to show that "for non-shikha holders head must be covered with a cloth or truban while participating in rituals" but might be that is the reason why some Hindus cover their head. Because most people don't have Shikhas nowadays. @Sauravk
    – Rickross
    Feb 7, 2021 at 6:25
  • Yeah & preventing hairfall in temple, food plate could be another.(?) I saw pandit in balaji temple doing same during abhishekam youtu.be/mn-UzGdrer4
    – user22928
    Feb 7, 2021 at 6:44
  • May be but I don't think we can get some scriptural reference supporting that point. @Sauravk
    – Rickross
    Feb 7, 2021 at 6:55

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