The Indian Army has reiterated to its personnel that they must adhere to official rules for “wearing trinkets and religious symbols in uniform”. The orders were issued after Some Army personnel were seen wearing religious markers, chains, and other accessories in recent social media posts.

Army regulations deal with wearing accessories while in uniform, including religious symbols. They also list items which are allowed and the ones that are prohibited. Detailed instructions on clothing and accessories are listed in the Defense Services Regulations and Army Dress Regulations.

What do Army rules and regulations say about wearing religious articles with uniforms?

The regulations explicitly say “No unauthorized ornament or emblem is to be worn with uniform”, but a signet ring is permitted. Watch chains and trinkets cannot be worn with uniform in a manner where they are visible.

Army Dress Regulations specifically mention that no chains or sacred threads are to be worn around the neck. If worn, they are to be concealed properly so they are not visible.

The paragraph in the regulations on “Wearing of Trinkets or Religious Symbols in Uniform” says, “No personnel will wear any type of bracelets when in uniform. A single sacred thread can be worn on the wrist (multiple threads are not permitted though) on the day of pooja. ‘Kada’ can be worn only by Sikh Officers, JCOs, Other Ranks and Non-Sikh Officers commanding Sikh troops. No tilak/vibhuti or any other symbol will be worn/applied while in uniform”.

What restrictions are in place for women personnel?

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According to the regulations, married female personnel can wear the mangalsutra around their necks in a way that is not visible in the uniform.

The orders regarding make-up and cosmetics in uniform strictly prohibit lipstick and colored nail polish. Bindis are also not permitted. Vermillion (sindoor) may be applied on the hair parting, only if it is not visible when a beret/peak cap is worn.

“Female personnel wearing the Indian Army uniform will not wear any cosmetic/make-up in any uniform. False eyelashes, eyeliner, kohl (kaajal) and application of facial make-up are not permitted. Only transparent fingernail varnish/nail paint is permitted to be worn. Facial foundation cream, that acts as a sun-protection agent may be applied conservatively and worn in the field/outdoor or in operations areas. Application of henna (mehendi) on hands, when in uniform, on duty, is strictly prohibited,” the orders say.

What are the orders for jewellery?

Except for small earrings and engagement/wedding/eternity/signet rings, no jewelery is to be worn by any personnel in uniform.

For female personnel, only one set of ear piercings is allowed. Wearing of earrings is allowed in uniform, provided that a single pair of decorative style (pearl or gemstone) accessory, of a size not greater than 5 mm in diameter is worn.

Piercing of the nose is allowed for female personnel but no stud is to be worn in uniform. When wearing a mess dress, a single stud of neutral color and size not greater than 2.5 mm in diameter can be worn. No “fancy” earrings, nose rings or ‘press-on’ studs with visible metal stems are allowed.

One engagement/wedding ring can be worn on the ring finger’s left hand. Although, no ring is to be worn on ceremonial parades when wearing ceremonial orders of dress.

What other restrictions are in place?

Applying any fragrances — deodorants, perfumes, etc. — is strictly prohibited for personnel in uniform. However, after-shave lotions may be used.

Watches or watch bands cannot be worn because they may create a safety hazard. Brightly-colored watches or watch bands are also not permitted. Pocket watches with visible chains are also not allowed. During a ceremonial parade, a watch is not to be worn by any member, except the senior soldier controlling the parade sequence.