I'm aware that Buddhist monastic communities often wear robes that distinguish them and visibly mark them out as Buddhists. Do lay Buddhist ever do the same thing? Is there any jewellery or clothing that lay Buddhists wear to mark them out as Buddhists - a visible marker of their religion. This is obviously common in other religions e.g. crucifixes for Christians - but do Buddhists of any tradition have an equivalent?

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    AFAIK Nope. Buddhists are supposed to practice dhamma. (Keep precepts, generosity,..) Such kind of mark/symbols are unnecessary.
    – Nyan
    Commented Sep 27, 2014 at 2:38
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    Buddhist meditators sometimes wear all white clothing during a meditation course or to meditate at a monastery/temple.
    – Robin111
    Commented Sep 27, 2014 at 23:58
  • i mean we wear talismans and icons of the buddhas/bodhisattvas made of gold/metals/jade Commented Apr 28 at 23:02

5 Answers 5


I'm in the US, with <1% self identified Buddhists in most counties. So there isn't a lot of established customs as there are abroad, where wearing say a white band in Theravada countries, or a pilgrims hat in Japan (worn by hikers as they hike from temple to temple).

I organized a Buddhist book club and generally don't use a table tent, I forget them and lose them. So the American thing to do for group identity is to get a T-Shirt.

I'm thinking of one like this: http://www.spreadshirt.com/gautama-buddha-fade-t-shirts-C3376A16488554#/detail/16488554T175A135PC1002313903PA296

  • Are you really getting a T-shirt? You should let us know when you decide. Post on meta maybe!! Commented Sep 28, 2014 at 20:20
  • @CrabBucket Can't tell if your serious there... I embrace my local tacky culture and add Buddhism to it. (as opposed to seeking Buddhism as part of a wholesale rejection of my own culture) Yesterday on the metro I saw a woman with a cross tattoo on her wrist. Tacky, but it's what you do to show you're a member of the club. So T-shirts, tattoos. White sashes are for foreigners, armbands are for political radicals, no one wears hats except for sports fans, jewelry is out of fashion at the moment, at least for me. Gotta work with what we got left. Commented Sep 29, 2014 at 14:16
  • I was absolutely serious. Part of the motivation of the question just a little investigation into how people admit they are Buddhists or not by external displays. In the west there is a real penumbra of Buddhist, Buddhish, Crypto Buddhists, pagan-organo-Buddhists that it could be quite important to nail your colours to the mast in some way. And if your colours are on a T-Shirt then that's how things are coming into the West. Which is an interesting thing of itself. Commented Sep 29, 2014 at 18:14

At least in the Theravada tradition people do not were distinguishing clothes or jewelry.

Though not used as a distinctive form, but as more of protection and a good luck charm, some wear a Pirith thread.


While I believe your question was intended for everyday wear in Vietnam and only in the temples most lay practitioners wear a blue/grey uniform a bit similar to the monastic's robes. A practice followed in Vietnamese temples around the world.

See an example: http://afamily.vn/doi-song/le-vu-lan-chu-hieu-tron-day-20120827125422575.chn (Hungry Ghost Festival)

Nam Mô A Di Đà Phật.

  • Another cultural example is that in Laotian temples, men, women, and children wear pha bieng; an upper body scarf worn diagonally across the torso with the right shoulder exposed.
    – Robin111
    Commented Sep 28, 2014 at 13:43

Lay buddhists in their everyday life are not prescribed any distinguishing clothing etc. Buddha laid total emphasis on practice and this can be inferred from many stories of his lifetime. Though, when you go on a meditation retreat, as said by @Robin111, it is suggested that you wear clothing which fully covers your body and white coloured clothing is preferred. This is due to practical reasons and to aid yourself in the practice. But in day to day life, there is no prescription of any type of clothing or any other symbolism


Perhaps wearing mala's would be an indicator?

  • Hi, welcome. I flagged this because it isn't an answer. On the other hand, this would be no problem as a comment. Also what is a mala?
    – Anthony
    Commented Sep 28, 2014 at 5:59
  • @qweilun Here's a Wikipedia article describing malas: Buddhist prayer beads
    – ChrisW
    Commented Sep 28, 2014 at 9:51

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