In response to a tourist posed naked in the roots of a sacred Banyan tree in Tua Village in Bali earlier this month, temple management has installed CCTV to ensure such incidences won’t happen again.
On the 1st of May 2022, Russian yogi and influencer Alina Fazleeva posted a photo of herself naked, hugging a sacred Banyan Tree on her social media. Within hours a criminal investigation was launched that subsequently led to her deportation from Indonesia. Fazleeva worked with the Bakakan Temple management to do all she could to apologize for her actions, including paying for and participating in a cleansing ceremony at the tree.
In light of these events, the temple management teams have vowed to ensure such incidences don’t happen again. Management at Babakan Temple have decided that temple security will start working earlier in the day and are considering installing CCTV cameras throughout the site. Other temples that attract high numbers have tourists have also followed suit.
A spokesman for DTW Ulun Danau Beratan Temple, Agus Tea Saputra, has said that the installation of 36 CCTV cameras across the site was prompted by concerns that incidences of nudity may increase as tourists return to Bali.
The image of Fazleeva at Babakan Temple went viral and caused an uproar from local online commentators who condemned her actions. It seems that this was the last straw for temple management teams across Bali who have had to deal with influencers and tourists disrespecting their holy spaces for too long.
Saputra went on to say that the cameras have been installed in spots around the temple where tourists tend to stop to take photos. The Ulun Danau Beratan Temple is one of Bali’s most iconic temples and welcomes thousands of genuine worshippers and curious travelers from around the world every year.
He noted that although the installation of CCTV was primarily to deter tourists from behaving inappropriately, they also offer an additional level of security. He described how the CCTV could be used to help track misplaced items by tourists, or in the unlikely event of pickpocketing.
Ulun Danau Beratan Temple has six security guards on rotation throughout the day, as well as admission staff. The temple is very well maintained and tourists are welcome to explore the grounds. The inside of the temple itself can only be accessed by genuine worshippers.
It is not only local communities that are working to stamp out inappropriate behavior by tourists. The Balinese Immigration Authorities are making their stance on illegal, sacrilegious, and disrespectful behavior very clear.
On 6th May 2022 the Governor of Bali, Wayan Koster, held a press conference to announce that Alina Falveena, her husband, and Jeff Craigen had all been issued deportation orders. Jeff Craigen is a Canadian influencer and actor who was caught doing the Haka, while naked, at the summit of Mount Batur. The volcano is another deeply spiritual place for Balinese people and when the video of Craigen went viral so too did a local commentary about how such incidences should be handled.
Though the installation of CCTV cameras alone may not be sufficient in deterring those who have little respect for holy sites, it will ensure that temple management can gather evidence to provide to the police to mean justice can be delivered. Most temples in Bali have signage to inform visitors how to behave appropriately.
Many believe that influencer culture has become normalized and so many travelers claim to be unaware of local cultural norms. Both visitors and worshippers must wear a sarong when entering a Balinese temple. Those who are menstruating are not permitted to enter. Photos and videos are only allowed to be taken in certain areas, if in doubt refrain and ask a member of the temple staff for their permission.
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