Defaming the Most Sacred

Follow an Act of Sacrilege at a Balinese Temple, Calls Grow to Ban Tourists from Entering Sacred Areas of Balinese Holy Places
Following extensive coverage on social media of a foreign tourist committing sacrilege by climbing atop a padmasana at the Puri Gelap Besakih, the Rector of the Bali Fine Arts Institute (ISI Denpasar), Prof. I Gede Arya Sugiartha, is depicting the tourist’s misbehaviour as a “shared mistake” with the people of Bali who have failed to adequately protect sacred sites.

On December 1, 2017, a Spaniard from Valencia, Bernat Purel Mundo, was filmed climbing the padmasana at Pura Gelap Besakih – during a period then the temple was still inside the exclusion zone surrounding the Mount Agung Volcano and otherwise devoid of visitors.

The subject video was only uploaded to social media on April 18, 2018, and immediately precipitated strong criticism from many walks of life in Bali.

Quoted in Balipost.com, Sugiartha has called on the Hindus of Bal to fastidiously safeguard the purity of Balinese religious sites from unethical acts committed by foreign tourists. The head of Bali’s school of fine arts is recommending that the central, sacred areas of all Balinese temples be declared “off-limits” to foreign tourists, adding, “Don’t make everything possible only for the sake of money.”

Speaking on Saturday, April 21, 2018, Arya warned that unless controls are put in place further sacrilege will be committed that will cause resentment in the hearts of native Balinese Hindus.

The ISI Rector's recommendation received support from the Rector of Bali’s Teachers College (IKIP), Dr. I Made Suarta, who said those in charge of temples need to close the gates leading to sacred areas of temples. At the same time, said Suarta, religious leaders need to supervise temples and safeguard their sanctity. “If necessary, the keys to the main gate (pintu utama Mandala) should be held by a Balinese priest,” he explained.

He suggests that before any tourist or guide is allowed to enter a temple area they must receive instruction on proper decorum and dress.