A religious habit is a distinctive set of garments worn by members of a religious order. Traditionally some plain garb recognisable as a religious habit has also been folded by those leading the religious eremitic and anachoritic life, although in their case without conformity to a particular uniform style.
In the typical Roman Catholic or Anglican orders, the habit consists of a tunic covered by a scapular and cowl, with a hood for monks and a veil for nuns; in other orders it may be a distinctive form of cassock for men, or a distinctive habit and veil for women. Modern habits are sometimes eschewed in favour of a simple business suit. Catholic Canon Law requires only that it be in some way identifiable so that the person may serve as a witness to Gospel values. This requires flexibility and creativity. For instance in Turkey, where religious garb is not allowed in public, a Franciscan might wear street clothes.
In many orders, the conclusion of postulancy and the beginning of the novitiate is marked by a ceremony, during which the new novice is accepted then clothed in the community's habit by the superior. In some cases the novice's habit will be somewhat different from the customary habit: for instance, in certain orders of women that use the veil, it is common for novices to wear a white veil while professed members wear black, or if the order generally wears white, the novice wears a gray veil. Among some Franciscan communities of men, novices wear a sort of overshirt over their tunic; Carthusian novices wear a black cloak over their white habit.
In some orders, different types or levels of profession are indicated by differences in habits.
Read more about Religious Habit: Habits of Roman Catholic Religious Orders, Eastern Orthodox Habit (schema), Origin and Construction, Kāṣāya in Indian Buddhism, Jiāshā in Chinese Buddhism, Kesa in Japanese Buddhism, Jainism
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