Why Do We Take Our Footwear Off in a Hindu temple?

Recently I have visited Ernakulathappan temple. A tall man came to me and introduced himself as Janardhanan. He said he used to read my articles. Then abruptly asked a question: “Udayji, why is footwear not allowed inside the temple? What’s the tradition behind it?”

“Who said so? Some people are allowed to wear footwear inside. The footwear allowed inside a temple is called Khadau.” (A Khadau is essentially the old style footwear. It is made of wood.) There are certain temples in northern India that allow wooden Paadukas (footwear) to be worn during winter months.

“Oh, that may be in the ancient times. I was asking about today’s footwear – like shoes, chappals, sandals etc.”

“Oh, okay. Most of the Temple authorities display a board which says “Footwear are prohibited inside the temple premises” – that should be the reason,” I said adding, “We need to obey rule of the temple, right?”

“Udayji, that’s very simplistic response. I asked you because you write about science and logic of every Hindu tradition. As a reason, I heard that, we need to absorb positive energy in the temple premise through the bare feet?”

“Janardhanji, I do not know about such positive energy. The words positive and negative are just scales to denote calculations. I have not learnt about any such energy in science…

(Excerpts from my book: MANTRAS and RITUALS: THE LOGIC OF HINDU SCIENCE. For further reading: https://www.amazon.in/dp/B093Z2M52M ) You may visit Amazon site of your respective country and search “B093Z2M52M”

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