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Last Updated: Tuesday, 12 July, 2005, 15:02 GMT 16:02 UK
Dress code for Mumbai churchgoers
Cardinal Ivan Dias
Cardinal Dias says skimpy clothing is unbecoming of church dignity
Miniskirts, tight outfits and plunging necklines are inappropriate for Sunday Mass, the Catholic Church in the Indian city of Mumbai (Bombay) says.

Pained by churchgoers' fashion sense, the Archbishop of Mumbai, Cardinal Ivan Dias, has urged the faithful to dress modestly during services.

Church officials say it is an attempt to discourage vulgarity.

A similar plan by Bombay University recently generated a lot of debate in a city considered India's fashion centre.

Cardinal Dias told the Times of India: "Whereas in days gone by, the 'Sunday best' used to become at times a sort of fashion parade, the modern tendency would seem to go to the other extreme.

"People [are] wearing attire which is considered casual and unbecoming of the sacred dignity of the church and the members of its congregation."


The president of the Bombay Catholic Forum, Dolphy D'Souza, told the BBC the Church had merely issued guidelines and they should not be taken as an order.

Dance bar girls in Mumbai
Mumbai is considered India's fashion centre

He said that issuing such guidelines was nothing new and the Church had been reminding followers about dress codes for some time.

A regular churchgoer said the guidelines were needed because Masses were increasingly becoming like a fashion show.

Mumbai has nearly 500,000 Catholics who pray in more than 100 churches.

Bombay University's recent dress code move became quite controversial.

University authorities argued that tight outfits and skimpy clothes led to crimes such as rape.

The move led to protests by many non-governmental organisations and student bodies.

The proposal has not yet been implemented.

In the past, some right-wing Hindu organisations have also tried to ban what they describe as "provocative dressing" on campus.

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