High priests of Parisada Hindu Dharma Indonesia (PHDI), the country’s leading authority on Hinduism, reportedly issued an edict declaring South Bali’s Benoa Bay a sacred area.
The Benoa area contains many sacred places as the beach is used for Hindu rituals like Melasti and also has many temples, PHDI said.
The significance of this announcement can’t be understated, as Benoa Bay in predominantly Hindu Bali has been the site of controversy for a Dubai-eque reclamation project for the past several years. Developer TWBI is currently carrying out an Environmental Impact Analysis (Amdal) for the project, but could PHDI vouching for the area’s sanctity be the tipping point to protect Benoa from encroachment in predominantly Hindu Bali?
The Sabha Pandita (high priests) have apparently been super PC about the edict, claiming that the designation is independent of the politics of the reclamation project, but they’ve also said that given the area’s sanctity, it’s clear that the reclamation project shouldn’t go through.
“They only made a decision based on religious context. However, as a sacred area, it is obvious that reclamation cannot be carried out in Benoa Bay,” said Putu Wirata Dwikora, the chairman of the PHDI’s Sabha Walaka (intellectual group), as quoted by the Jakarta Post.
But even though Wirata says Saturday’s decision was solely a religious one, the high priests were indeed looking at Benoa because of reclamation concerns—the edict decision was made based on recs from a team of nine high priests who conducted a reclamation-related study from October 2015.
“We hope that our decision can be used as guidance for all people,” said high priest Ida Pedanda Gede Bang Buruan Manuaba, as quoted by the Jakarta Post.
We hope so too.