Visiting Bali and not exploring any temples would be an unforgivable mistake. Temples and religion are a significant part of Balinese culture, so when entering a temple, it's important to keep in mind a few essential rules. They're not complicated, but they'll help you avoid uncomfortable situations, gain the favor of the locals, and delve deeper into the mysterious world of Balinese gods.
1. Sarong and Sash
The sarong and sash are integral components of the traditional Balinese attire. Balinese people wear them for all temple ceremonies. Entering a temple without a sarong and sash is considered highly disrespectful. Both men and women should have their legs covered below the knees. Understandably, tourists from other countries might not have these garments. In many temples, you can rent a sarong and sash at the entrance for a reasonable fee. Don't ignore this option. Alternatively, if you're heading to a temple, try to wear clothing that closely resembles the required attire. A long skirt and sash can be found in any woman's wardrobe.
2. Covered Upper Body
When visiting a temple, your shoulders should also be covered. Tank tops and tops with exposed shoulders or midriff are not acceptable attire for temple visits. If your attire doesn't meet the standards, you might be denied entry to the temple.
3. Avoid Visiting During Bleedingu
Balinese Hinduism prohibits women from entering temples during menstruation and for 6 weeks after childbirth. You also shouldn't enter a temple if you have an open wound or other serious injuries.
4. Avoid Pointing Your Feet Towards the Altar
Just like in many religions, in Bali, feet are considered one of the less pure parts of the body. Therefore, avoid situations where your feet are pointing towards sacred objects, altars, or priests. During temple ceremonies, people typically sit on their knees. You can follow their example.
5. Don't Stand Higher Than the Priest
A priest is a highly revered individual in Balinese society, with a status above that of an ordinary person, including tourists. Therefore, try to avoid situations where your head is elevated above the priest's head. Don't stand or sit higher than the priest. Yes, the average height of a European person is greater than that of a Balinese person, but if you're in a temple and you need to pass by a priest, make sure to bend down. Ideally, bend down enough so that one of your hands touches the ground, and proceed in that posture.
6. Don't Forget to Make a Donation
Just like many churches in other religions, Balinese temples rely on donations from worshippers. There isn't a fixed amount here. Contributing 5,000 to 10,000 Indonesian rupiahs per person will be sufficient. Larger amounts are at your discretion.
7. Respect the Local Culture and Customs.
Remember that you are in a sacred place. Just because it's not your religion doesn't mean you can behave provocatively or arrogantly. Use common sense and follow accepted norms of behavior in the temple. Avoid speaking loudly, don't take close-up photos of worshippers' faces during prayers, and follow the guidance of guides or temple staff. A universal recommendation is to conduct yourself in the temple just as the locals do. If everyone is sitting, take a seat. If everyone is standing, stand. If everyone is quiet, be silent, and so on.