Bali tourism 'worrying' experts after woman's nude temple romp

A tourist who crashed a sacred Balinese performance while naked represents a concerning trend.

Experts on Indonesian culture have expressed concern about the impact of foreign tourists on the country's culture after a traveller's nude antics in Bali caused an uproar last week.

Viral video showed 28-year-old German woman Darja Tuschinski disrupting a performance while completely naked at a sacred temple in Ubud. Balinese officials have since confirmed she is receiving treatment at a local mental institution.

Ms Tuschinski's nude escapade comes on the back of news that Aussies heading to Bali will soon be handed a list of 'Dos and Don'ts' when entering the popular tourist destination, with local officials saying they're sick and tired of unruly and anti-social tourists.

Nude German tourist at Bali temple
A German tourist shocked locals by disrobing at a sacred Balinese site last week. Source: Viral Press/Australscope

'Extremely disrespectful'

Dr Justin Wejak, a tutor in Indonesian Studies at the University of Melbourne's Asia Institute, says the nude incident was extremely disrespectful and showed a lack of appreciation for the sanctity of a sacred place. "In Balinese Hinduism, as in other indigenous beliefs, almost all places are sacred, and sacredness is power," Dr Wejak explained to Yahoo News Australia.

Dr Wejak explained the importance of "inside and outside" and "sacred and profane" in Balinese traditional architecture and culture. "It is thus important to maintain the separation of the spaces in order to show respect to the power each space represents: 'inside' represents sacred power, and 'outside' represents profane power," Dr Wejak explained.

'Increasingly worrying'

"The spaces can also be personified: the foreign tourist, an outsider, who entered the sacred space naked, crossed over the boundary of the binary, and understandably the locals found the act highly offensive. Offending tourists may say sorry and promise not to repeat their offensive behaviour, but for the local Balinese, this is an opportunity for deep reflection on the importance of protecting their own sacred places and traditions.

"The phenomenon of desacralisation of Bali is increasingly worrying, which means that the core indigenous belief in sacredness is gradually eroded. Whose fault is this? Outsiders aren't the only ones to be blamed; the local Balinese may also be partly accountable for the profanation of the sacred. Selling sacredness for the sake of tourism in Bali, as it seems, is a big loss of traditions."

Bali temple and visitors
"Tourism and religion, including commoditised forms of religion, are an integral part of Balinese daily life, identity, and economy," says Professor Edwin Jurriens. Source: Getty

Bali reconsidering cost of tourism

Speaking to Yahoo, Associate Professor Edwin Jurriens, senior lecturer in Indonesian Studies at the University of Melbourne's Asia Institute, said there appears to be a misconception among some foreigners that Bali is some kind of hedonistic paradise, with no limits on acceptable social or moral behaviour.

"Income from foreigners is important, but at what cost?" Professor Jurriens questioned. "There have been issues with massive land sales to foreign project developers and individuals, tourists overstaying their visa or starting up their own businesses, criminal activity or clear culturally offensive behaviour by visitors, and the influx of people due to global geopolitics such as the war in eastern Europe."

"In an effort to bounce back from the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, Bali again is trying to bring tourism back to the island. But the relative isolation during the pandemic may also have prompted new reflection on the challenges around social, cultural and religious identity."

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