Temple etiquette – do’s and don’ts

Temple etiquette do's and don'ts
Temple Etiquette do’s and don’ts

If you are planning to visit a temple or religious building on your travels, then you’ll need to adhere to some simple temple etiquette. If you don’t follow these rules, you could be declined entry, which will spoil the visit. It is for this reason; we have detailed the do’s and don’ts when visiting a religious temple, to prevent you from being rejected. All you have to do is adhere to these Temple Etiquette – do’s and don’ts. 

We regularly visit Buddhist temples on our trip to Sri Lanka. What surprises us the most, is the vast number of tourists that don’t follow the correct temple etiquette. We don’t want this happening to you! Just by following these simple do’s and don’ts, you’ll have the best experience visiting any religious temple, in any country.  

Do’s 

  • Be respectful to the religion and the people around you 
  • Give offerings such as a lotus flower in Buddhism, you can also give donations, food and other supplements that the temple may require 
  • Get involved into the culture and rituals is a great way to learn new things and a great adventure. 
Mosque in Galle Fort, Galle, Sri Lanka
Mosque in Galle Fort, Galle, Sri Lanka

Don’ts 

There’s more don’ts than do’s, providing you don’t do any of these things, then you’ll have the best experience at a temple: 

  • Wearing sleeveless tops, or shorts at a temple or religious building is disrespectful. What you should wear is a long sleeve top, or at least a T-Shirt, as long as it is covering your shoulders and some of your arms, along with long trousers that are below the knee at least. You could get turn away should you wear inappropriate clothing, or handed a sarong to cover up.
  • Try to wear white clothing. It is customary to wear white in a temple, if you don’t have white clothing, then try and wear something that is plain and not brightly coloured.  
  • Do not have your back to the Buddha statue when taking pictures. It is disrespectful to have your back to a religious statue when taking pictures. The majority of temples allow photography, if you are wanting to take a picture or a few of you with a statue, then try and stand sideways on and to the side.
  • There are some places that will not allow photography, ensure you follow the rules.  
  • Take your footwear off prior to entering a temple. A shoe rack is available for when you need to remove your footwear, prior to entering a temple. It is a lovely feeling walking across the sand at a Buddhist temple. If you are not comfortable without footwear, then you may feel more comfortable wearing socks. Socks will come in handy when walking across scorching hot stones or concrete that’s in some temples. 
  • Do you have Religious tattoos? If you have any tattoos of Buddha or other religious meanings, you will need to cover these up before entering a temple. You may feel that having a tattoo of Buddha on your body is meaningful, but for many, they could find this offensive. It has widely been reported that travellers have been returned home due to Buddha tattoos on their body. If you do not wish to have your holiday spoiled because you have a tattoo that others may feel offended by, then make sure you are covered up.  
  • Be quiet! As you wander around the temple, make sure that you keep quiet. Worshippers do not want to be disturbed with loud talking.   
Temple Etiquette do's and don'ts
Temple Etiquette do’s and don’ts

We love visiting temples and religious buildings, they are so relaxing, tranquil and quiet. We want you to also enjoy and experience visiting temples, but not at the expense of missing out because you didn’t follow the temple etiquette with these Do’s and Don’ts. 

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