Tourist breaks big Bali rule at sacred site

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Bali remains a popular destination for tourists but there are still some foreigners unaware of the “non-negotiable” cultural customs and traditions.

Balinese officials are reminding travellers of the simple rules they need to follow when visiting sacred sites such as temples after one family flouted the rules.

While some temples have specific rules, with extra rules honoured at certain times of the year and during festivals, irrespective of faith, if visiting a Balinese Hindu temple it is essential to adhere to the rules and etiquette required.

Some of the rules include wearing a sarong, a modest shirt, and a sash around the waist — something a Russian family failed to honour during a recent trip to Pura Agung Besakih, a temple located at the foot of Mount Agung volcano in East Bali.

In a now viral clip, security officers can be seen escorting the father away from the temple, as he pushes a pram with several children following behind.

According to the post shared by ‘Info Amlapura Official – Bali’, they were not wearing appropriate clothing with reports the father “gestured rudely” and did not honour the requests that were made of them.

Pura Agung Besakih, also known as the Mother Temple, dates back to 1007AD and is the most spiritually significant temple on the island for Balinese Hindus.

Given Bali’s temples are active places of worship, visitors are required to cover up, with no bare legs allowed.

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Head of the Pura Agung Besakih Sacred Area Management Agency, I Gusti Lanang Muliarta, said the tourists were intercepted twice by officers when they tried to enter the Pura Agung Besakih area via the east route, “but the officers lost the argument because the foreigners were a little arrogant”.

According to The Bali Sun, the family was also asked to buy entry tickets to the temple, as is required of non-worshipping visitors, and they refused to cooperate again.

“After arguing for a long time, the foreigner finally wanted to calm down and not come back,” Mr Muliarta, said.

He said following the incident, security would be tightened around all entrances to the temple which is the largest and holiest complex of Bali consisting of 86 temples.

Professor of Tourism Science at Udayana University, I Gede Pitana, urged tourists to adhere to local customs and traditions, adding that every visitor must wear a ‘senteng’ or sash tied around their waist.

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He said: “Because the senteng or scarf has meaning, when we go to the temple, we have to tie up all negative things”.

He said those who have long hair must tie it back neatly and reminded tourists to not wear shorts or bikinis.

Bali has cracked down on how tourists behave and dress having launched a campaign that see billboards installed where customs are flouted the most – such as the more popular locations of Kuta, Seminyak, Legian, Canggu, Ubud, Sanur, Nusa Dua, and Uluwatu.

“The point is that tourists respect Balinese cultural customs by dressing well and neatly, following in an orderly manner, carrying out traffic activities and not doing things that are outside the provisions,” Bali Tourism Board chairman Ida Bagus Agung Partha Adnyana said in March last year.

Indonesian officials have also released an official dos and don’ts list to control unruly tourists in Bali — and if they don’t abide, their visas could be cancelled.