India temple makes sari mandatory for foreign women

Indian Hindu priests perform Ganga Arti Puja at Dashasamedh Ghat on the River Ganges in Varanasi Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Varanasi is one of India's ancient holy cities

A temple in northern India has asked female foreign tourists to use a sari to "cover themselves and look decent" before entering the complex.

The Kashi Vishwanath temple in Varanasi city has opened a new counter to provide saris for women who come in "outfits that end before the knee".

The temple authorities said the new measures had been taken to maintain decency in the temple complex.

But they denied that the temple was imposing a formal dress code on women.

"We get complaints that some foreign tourists come to the temple in indecent clothes. We have arranged saris for women and also dhotis [traditional wrap-around clothing] for men to ensure that they can cover themselves decently," the temple's chief executive officer PN Dwivedi told BBC Hindi.

Image copyright Roshan Kumar
Image caption Mr Dwivedi is against foreign tourists wearing "revealing" clothes inside the temple

Mr Dwivedi added that tourists "can simply wrap a sari or a dhoti on top of their clothes" before entering the temple.

"They [tourists] will not be charged for this service. If Indians come in indecent clothes, they too will be helped," he said.

He told Times of India that no tourist will be denied entry in the temple.

"No foreign woman is going to be stopped from offering prayer inside the sanctorum, and we are not enforcing any dress code. This is just a way of motivating foreign women, who come to the temple in short Western attire to avoid such dresses," he said.

Some foreign tourists told BBC Hindi that they don't mind the new measures.

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