An Instagram photo from 2017 showing two foreign tourists being disrespectful on a pelinggih (shrine) at an undisclosed temple in Bali is making its rounds on social media today, resulting in an onslaught of criticisms from netizens and Balinese officials.
In the photo, a female tourist appears to be posing with a peace sign while sitting on top of a pelinggih, while a male tourist appeared to be climbing on a smaller pelinggih in the background. As Balinese temples are considered places of sanctity, every visitor is subject to strict etiquette and customs. This includes covering one’s legs and sometimes shoulders, as well as not pointing one’s feet toward the shrines.
The original account that posted the photo appears to have been deleted from Instagram at the time of writing, but not before multiple shares of the photo (and even of the account) have made the rounds on social media. Many users are expressing disgust over the tourists’ disrespectful behavior, with some suggesting that a simple research should’ve informed tourists on local customs and what not to do.
The photo naturally reminds us of a video that went viral back in August, in which a couple from the Czech Republic can be seen washing the woman’s private parts with holy water from a Hindu temple in Ubud.
The incident sparked a strong warning from Bali Governor I Wayan Koster, who said that boorish tourists will be “sent back home.”
Though the Instagram photo going around today is from 2017, one Balinese official described the incident as having “eluded” authorities.
“It is an old photo from 2017, and because it is an old incident, we consider ourselves as having been eluded,” Ida Penglingsir Agung Putra Sukahet, who is chief of Bali Province’s council of desa adat, or traditional village, told Tribun-Bali today.
“This is a regrettable and saddening behavior for us all, especially for all Balinese Hindus. [These acts] tarnish the holiness of our temples.”
Meanwhile, acting head of Bali Province’s Tourism Agency, Putu Astawa, told Detik today that temples across the island would need to put up more signs and be subject to better monitoring.
“…There are many holy places in Bali, while foreign tourists often don’t know our culture. This requires monitoring, some kind of announcement whether in English [or other languages] so that these types of incidents will not happen again,” Astawa was quoted as saying.
Astawa added that while budget for more signs exist, the fact that there are many temples mean monitoring would require village officials to step up on their parts as well.
He also said that the provincial government in Bali is currently working on a new regulation that would serve as guidelines for tourists visiting the Island of the Gods.