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Those wishing to join a monastery begin their lives as novices. Novices may or may not dress in the black inner robe (Isorassa or Ryassa) and wear the soft monastic hat (Skoufos), this being dependent on the abbot’s wishes. The isorassa and the skoufos are the first part of the Orthodox monastic "habit", of which there is only one general style (with a few slight regional variations over the centuries).

If a novice chooses to leave during the novitiate period, no penalty is incurred. When the abbot deems the novice ready, the novice is asked to join the monastery. If he accepts, he is tonsured in a formal service. He is given the outer robe (Exorassa) and the klobuk (See Picture).