BALI, INDONESIA, September 21, 2018 (The Guardian): Authorities in Bali have vowed to stop Westerners in bikinis posing in front of sacred temples as they lament a decline in the “quality of tourists” visiting the island. Bali deputy governor Tjokorda Oka Artha Sukawati, known as Cok Ace, said the authorities had been concerned by a recent rise in disrespectful behaviour by tourists visiting Bali’s hundreds of sacred Hindu sites. “This is the government’s attempt to maintain the Pura [temples],” said Cok Ace at a regional council meeting this week. “The temples need to be preserved since they are the spirits of Bali’s cultures and customs.” He said in the coming weeks they would be re-evaluating the system that allows tourists to visit temples unaccompanied.
Bali has become an increasingly popular tourist destination over the past few years, attracting over five million visitors in 2017, with many drawn to the island for its unique Hindu temples. The government crackdown was prompted by a photo of a Danish tourist sitting on Linggih Padmasana shrine at Puhur Luhur Batukaru temple, which went viral. The shrine, which is shaped like a throne on top of a pillar, is reserved for the most important Deity in Balinese Hinduism, known as the supreme God and to sit on it is seen as highly offensive to the faith. Indonesia has strict blasphemy laws and the Indonesian Hindu Religious Council said they have instructed the police to investigate the Linggih Padmasana shrine incident and find the tourist responsible.