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Here at The Underwear Expert, we take our undergarments pretty seriously. In fact we spend most of our day thinking about briefs, boxers, jocks and everything in between. For many devout, however, underwear transcends mere obsession and becomes something else entirely: a religious symbol.
The most famous example is Mormon underwear, which we covered exhaustively in our 10 Uninteresting Mormon Underwear facts article. The Latter Day Saints aren’t the only religious group to embrace special underwear, though. It turns out that some religions have required specific underwear for thousands of years. Want to sound smart in front of your friends? Next time someone brings up Mormon underwear, be sure to fill them in on all the other religions that involve special underwear.
Sikhs also have a special undergarment intended to symbolize purity called a Kachera. It’s a pair of shorts with a drawstring that looks quite similar to a trunk. Intended to help combat sinful sexual desires, the kachera is given to Sikhs who have been baptized. An extremely important part of the faithful’s way of life, the Kachera is one of the five Sikh articles of faith.
Under direct orders from God, the ancient Hebrew priests and the High Priest wore specially made “linen breeches” that reached from the waist to the knees under their priestly garments. Once again, the purpose of this underwear was modesty. Want to know something really wild? The priests would use their old, worn out underwear as wicks for torches in the Temple. That’s right – they burned their old underwear for light. If you really want to creep out a friend, be sure to give him a few homemade underwear candles for the holidays.
This traditional undergarment is often worn by Orthodox Jews as a sort of cross between an undershirt and a tunic. The knotted fringes are known as tzitzit and they dangle down from the garment. The Tallit Katan is usually made of cotton or wool. Unlike Mormon underwear, the Tallit Katan is not a required undergarment, but it is strongly encouraged by leaders in certain Jewish sects.
Just like any other article of clothing, underwear has had cultural and religious significance in many different cultures. Sure, some of these traditions might seem strict, but don’t let the purity fool you. Even the most modest cultures clearly have a sense of humor when it comes to their undies.