A video showing a couple from the Czech Republic washing the woman’s private parts with holy water from a Balinese Hindu temple in Ubud went viral over the weekend, sparking outrage among many Indonesians and furthering the conversation on issues with tourism in Bali.
The video, which was first uploaded as a story to the Instagram account of the woman, Sabina Dolezalova, has since been captured and shared widely by others. The video also shows her boyfriend, Zdenek Slouka, splashing water from a pelinggih (shrine) on Dolezalova’s butt.
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Unsurprisingly, the video elicited a lot of negative reactions from Indonesians, including Balinese designer Niluh Djelantik, who highlighted the importance of tourists understanding and respecting Balinese culture.
“Bali will drown if we can’t protect ourselves and be selective with the types of tourists that visit the island,” Niluh said in an Instagram post.
The couple uploaded an apology video not long after receiving a torrent of criticisms online in which they expressed their regret and admitted their lack of knowledge about the temple and its holy status.
“We are so sorry about the video from yesterday, we dishonored the holy temple and holy water in Ubud, and we didn’t know it,” Slouka said in the video.
According to a statement issued by the Gianyar Police, Slouka and Dolezalova held a meeting with officials from Padangtegal village (where the temple is located) on Sunday. The meeting produced a joint statement from the couple and officials in which they declared that the matter was taken care of.
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In a message exchange with Niluh (which the designer shared on her account), the couple again apologized and claimed that it was hard for them to recognize which places are holy because they are atheists.
However, the apology was seen as inadequate by many Indonesians, many of whom commented on how their apologies appeared insincere and blasted the couple for using their atheism as an excuse.
“Atheist does not mean you can disrespect others’ beliefs. And Bali is known as Pulau Dewata [Island of the Gods], so Bali is holy. “Not knowing” is not a valid excuse to disrespect a religion. This is frustrating,” Instagram user @_cunique commented.
Another comment came from Jerinx, the drummer of Bali’s famed punk rock band Superman Is Dead who has become well known as an activist in his own right. Jerinx took to social media to argue that similar incidents involving foreign tourists happen far too often on the island.
“How convenient, a mere apology on Instagram and everything’s fixed. See what happens if we do something similar in their country, the result will be different. Bali has been disrespected too often by tourists,” Jerinx tweeted.
Enak banget minta maaf di IG langsung selesai. Coba kita di negaranya lakukan hal sama pasti beda.
Bali terlalu sering dilecehkan turis. Regulasi pariwisatanya pengemis. Berani anti khilafah tapi takut sama turis penjajah
Turis gak takut karma kecuali kita kita yg jadi karmanya https://t.co/D8xvUjYULT
— JRX (@JRX_SID) August 11, 2019
In April of last year, for example, a Spanish vlogger went viral after a video of him climbing up a Balinese temple sparked outrage among Balinese netizens. It was followed by an apology video as well, in which “Bernat” claimed that he didn’t realize he was not allowed to climb up on the temple.
According to Hening Widyastuti, a psychologist from Universitas Sebelas Maret in Solo, Central Java, Bali is often on the receiving end of such disrespectful behavior because “we are too soft.”
“It’s clear that we are too soft … Cultures and traditions in Bali clash with many policies on tourism, especially when it’s related to financial stuff,” Hening told Kompas.com yesterday.
Hening added that many tourists act disrespectfully during their visits because they are spoiled by many services and facilities, which leads to more disrespectful behavior.