Bali governor proposes temples to be excluded from tourism

Bali governor proposes temples to be excluded from tourism
Balinese Hindus hold a purification ritual at Tanah Lot Temple in Tabanan, Bali.

Bali Governor Made Mangku Pastika has proposed that temples be excluded as tourist destinations on the island to limit, or even prevent, tourists visiting the places of worship.

"Further discussion with the island's tourist industry will be necessary to consider the proposal. It is high time for us to limit access to our temples. Please use the temples to worship the creator," he said.

Pastika was talking during a seminar held on Tuesday on tourism and the Besakih mother temple, which has recently become a hot issue among Balinese religious and community leaders since the news of the planned inclusion of the largest and the most sacred temple in Bali in one of the national strategic tourist destinations.

"Temples must function as worship places," the governor said.

Currently, traders sell various goods, from food to fashion items, outside temples. "During piodalan, temple anniversaries, the traders pack the temples' yards," the governor said.

What was more important, Pastika said, was that nobody could guarantee that all visitors were eligible to enter these sacred sites.

According to Hindu belief, menstruating women are banned from entering temples. Behavior while inside the temple must also be decent and visitors should wear appropriate clothing.

I Gusti Ngurah Sudiana, chairman of the Indonesian Parisadha Hindu High Council (PHDI), warmly welcomed the proposal.

"There are some restrictions applied to non-Hindu visitors visiting temples," Sudiana said.

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