A few of the important temples in Goa have recently laid down a strict dress code for visitors, aimed at, especially, those from the foreign countries; while one prominent temple has banned foreigners altogether.
Why a dress code? Temple authorities say that the devotees were upset over ‘scantily dressed’ tourists in ‘beach-wear’ entering the temples.
Mahalasa Narayani Temple at Mardol, 20 km from Panaji, has put up a board: “Entry Restricted for Foreign Tourists”. On the other hand, Mangueshi temple at Mangueshi village, and Ramnathi temple at Ponda have put a dress code in place.
“We are not against the foreigners, but their dresses and conduct in the temple is highly objectionable, so the management has decided to ban them,” said Vinod Kamat, President, Mahalasa Narayani Temple.
The locals were recently outraged after some foreigners, out of ignorance, wore garlands. The garlands were supposed to be offered to the deity. “They would wear garlands themselves, and later dump them before the deity, which was highly objectionable,” Kamat said.
“There has to be some discipline.” Before the ban, on an average a hundred foreigners visited the temple every day.
Mangueshi Temple, located next to Mahalsa Temple, has imposed dress restrictions. The temple president, Jayant Mandurkar, said the dress code was same for both domestic as well as foreign tourists. Tourists sometimes wore short skirts, shorts and other exposing dresses when visiting the temple, he said.
Now a days, many foreigners, after seeing the board describing the dress code, come to temple committee’s office. They are given shawls so that they can cover themselves while going in. “Foreigners are cordial. They don’t argue. But we always have a run-in with the domestic tourists,” Mandurkar said.
He said that when the temple management informed the tourism department about the dress code, the department welcomed the move. “This will not impact the tourist flow. In fact, all over world, there are dress codes for visiting religious places,” said Ralf D’Souza, President, Travel and Tourism Association of Goa (TTAG).
For example, a visitor to mosques in Istanbul cannot enter inside without wearing a shawl, he said. “In Goa, the temples are meant for worship and we cannot violate their sanctity in the name of tourism,” he added.