Authorities on the Indonesian resort island of Bali will issue new rules on visiting Hindu temples, a Hindu leader said Wednesday, after disrespectful behaviour by foreign tourists sparked anger among the faithful.
A government decree is being prepared to regulate temple visits on the island in order to preserve the sanctity of the holy sites, said I Gusti Ngurah Sudiana, chairman of the Bali-based Indonesia Hindu Society. The move followed recent reports of tourists engaging in offensive behaviour at temples, including sitting on holy shrines. "We've seen cases of tourists playing the guitar, stealing artefacts and even engaging in immoral conduct at temples," Sudiana said. "Such insolent behaviour is an insult to Hindus and must not happen again," he said. Sudiana said a working group including representatives from the government and Hindu religious leaders had been set up to draft new rules.
In the future, tourists will only be allowed to enter the outer areas of temples, he said. "Temples that are primarily used for worship will always be locked when there are no prayer sessionsû, and those wishing to enter to pray will have to ask the guardian," he said. Bali council member Nyoman Parta urged the government to issue the decree as soon as possible. "This is a sensitive issue and we should avoid further uproars," he said.
Indonesia is the world's largest Muslim-majority country, but Bali is predominantly Hindu. About 6 million foreign tourists visited Bali last year, an increase of 16 per cent on the previous year.