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Bali Professor Explains How Tourists Should Dress And Behave At Temples

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Following the news of yet another arrest of foreigners in Bali for disrespecting a sacred site, one Balinese professor has spoken to the press about how and why tourists should dress appropriately at temples and other holy sites. 

Temple In Northern Bali.jpg

A group of Russian tourists was recently arrested at Pengubengan Besakih Temple for not dressing appropriately at the sacred site.

Now the Professor of Tourism Science at Udayana University, I Gede Pitana, spoke with reporters about why it is so important to wear the correct attire in Bali’s sacred temples. 

Professor Pitana explained, “What is appropriate is according to local clothing. For example, we are in Bali; the temple is in Bali, so please dress like the Balinese. Wear women’s and men’s cloth. Don’t wear shorts, let alone bikinis.”

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He continued to explain that everyone must wear a sarong when visiting a temple. Prof. Pitana noted, “Because the sarong or shawl has a meaning, we have to tie up all negative things.”

Prof Pitana reminded tourists that anyone with long hair, whether a man or a woman, must tie their hair back when entering a temple.

“Don’t let your hair down, but tie it up neatly so that no hair falls. It’s better to wear a headgear (headband)”. 

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He also called on tourists to be humble to accept a guide to visit Bali’s temples.

The tourism academic explained, “When entering the temple, it is highly recommended to invite or be accompanied by a guide. Why is that? Because temples are inanimate objects. There will be nothing interesting besides the architecture, but actually, if we go to the temple, what is much more interesting is the interpretation.”

During the interview, Prof Pitana reiterated the importance of temple visitors adhering to other important cultural practices.

He was impressed that those who are menstruating are prohibited from entering temples. 

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The conversation also touched on when it is and isn’t appropriate to take photos within a temple and what kinds of images are respectable.

Visitors cannot hold objects that belong to the temple, stand on pagodas, on holy trees, temple seats, or shrines. Wherever possible, visitors should sprinkle holy water, especially on the head, before entering the temple.  

Not all Balinese Hindu temples are open for non-Hindus, be sure to double-check that it is appropriate to enter a temple grounds if you are out exploring the island independently.

As a general rule, if there is no one at the temple to ask whether you can enter, you should not enter. 

Woman-At-Tirta-Empul-Temple-For-Melukat-Ceremony-in-Bali

Always wear a sarong, and wear modest clothing on the top, whether that be a t-shirt, shirt, or long sleeve top.

Some temples require you to remove shoes before entering; others do not, so again, always ask what the rule are at each temple that you visit. 

At Bali’s biggest temples, and those which are especially popular with tourists, there are always guides and temple keepers on hand to ask questions about what is and isn’t appropriate and respectful behavior. 

Temple-in-Central-Bali

In the last few weeks, the Indonesian Tourism Board, Wonderful Indonesia, has released a series of infographics online to help tourists understand the behavioral do’s and don’ts of a visit to Bali.

The public service announcements include information about what is and isn’t considered respectful and reminds tourist of legalities that have been increasingly overlooked by some tourists on the island, like the rules of the road. 

Tourist-Takes-Photo-Of-Bali-Temple

The provincial movement in Bali has launched a task force to crack down on foreigners breaking the law on the island.

This includes disrespecting sacred sites and temples, working illegally, and driving recklessly and without the correct driving license. 

Officials have confirmed that they are in the process of publishing what has been dubbed the ‘good tourist guide’, which will be a more comprehensive version of the information shared on social media posts by Wonderful Indonesia. 

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JK

Saturday 6th of May 2023

Mass tourism usually ruins everything significant, rendering it meaningless

BaliDuck

Saturday 6th of May 2023

A Bali Professor Explains How Bogans Should Dress And Behave In Bali:

Wear a bintang-shirt, sit in a plastic chair and drink bintangs. When you are done....repeat.

Raymond

Sunday 7th of May 2023

@BaliDuck, Exactly 😂. As long as they make the Inbound Immigration Tourist numbers all is good. Too funny, the article before it was exactly that. Bali hopeful to reach their financial greed goal next month.

Exp

Friday 5th of May 2023

Quote "A Bali Professor Explains How Tourists Should Dress And Behave At Temples"? And then he goes on and say that "tourists shall be humble and accept a guide to visit Bali’s temples."

Do the Professor know how this guide "business" actually works? I have visited Besakhi and nothing has changed over the years. Read recent google review from (lets say) Besakhi temple and it is depressing;

1. "Ticket price 60k, include Sarong and a guide. After a short tour, the guide will ask for extra money from you around 200k to 300k as a tip".

2. "Another wonderful place ruined by tourism in Bali. The touts/guides here are extremely rude and aggressive."

3. "Beautiful place that was ruined by people greed. There are a lot of scammers and guides who totally spoiled the experience."

4. "The "guides" that are assigned to you demand a tip and complain if it's "not enough" to their liking."

5. "You will be approached by scammers every 30 seconds to force you to buy a Sarong, hire them as guides, pay them because they are "the guardians of the temple" or pay them so that you can take photos."

So where is the guidebook telling locals how to behave at the temples?

Solo57

Friday 5th of May 2023

Bali is a stunning country , but tourists need to really learn to respect its cultural & religious requirements . I spent 3 months there last yr & seriously it isn't too difficult to do . If you can't, then just don't bother leaving your home country . I personally have enormous respect for the country, its people, its religious & heritage & cultural sites . The people are brilliant, the local hospitality is incredible. Just don't act like a fool & disrespect any rules or regulations. Enjoy what bali has to offer.

Shorty

Sunday 7th of May 2023

@Exp, For many of us expats it is. That it is a province of RI is immaterial. Assuming Exp means expat then why are you living here?

Yupu

Saturday 6th of May 2023

@Solo57, Bali isnt a country dum dum

Exp

Friday 5th of May 2023

Quote "Bali is a stunning country". Some people including myself claim Bali is merely a province in Indonesia.

Firechef

Friday 5th of May 2023

So...your paying 4 bucks to look at some old stuff then hire a guide and pay him, then buy a sarong, all the while being limited on what you can or cannot do I have the solution to the problem. DONT GO! Take that money and have fun at a nightclub.

Shorty

Sunday 7th of May 2023

@Firechef, Many of these places have historical, cultural and religious significance to the Balinese. So, using your feeling you wouldn't pay for a guided tour of similar places elsewhere. OK it may not mean anything to you, but others want to experience local culture, not get pissed with other expats at a bar or club.

Mick

Saturday 6th of May 2023

@Firechef, Why not stay in your comfort zone (home) if you're unwilling to adapt to a different culture which you clearly have no intention of respecting? (And don't forget that your local nightclub also has rules to follow...)