A week after a popular temple here banned the entry of foreigners and scantily clad tourists, Goa’s most renowned church Basilica of Bom Jesus is considering a code of ethics for the hordes of tourists, both domestic and foreign, who come visiting. Speaking to IANS Friday, Father Savio Barretto said it was shocking to see tourists treat a place of religious worship with “such scant respect” and that time had come to evolve and implement a strict code of ethics for them.
“It’s unbelievable the amount of chaos the tourists indulge in sometimes. Often they are not adequately dressed for a religious place. They shout, take pictures and behave inappropriately. It is time to start and implement a strict code of conduct for them,” Barretto said. The Basilica of Bom Jesus and the Se cathedral, both located at Old Goa, 15 km from here, are structures built in the 16th century by the colonial Portuguese rulers.
The former is a United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco) world heritage site and thousands of tourists flock to these churches everyday as part of guided tour itineraries, which often include trips to the local beaches in the vicinity too. ”We hired a minder who was asked to instruct tourists wearing beach wear and inappropriate clothes to the Bom Jesus Basilica. But that did not work. We are trying to revive the system now,” Barreto said. He said that locals who visit these places to offer prayers feel offended by the disrespect shown by the tourists. “They are often scandalised by the clothes,” he said.
Barretto also said that tourists often flout the norm of not taking photographs within the church premises. “We are going to put up signboards to dissuade tourists from taking photos,” he said. Last week, the 450-year-old Mahalsa Narayani temple in Ponda, 30 km from here, banned the entry of foreigners inside the temple after they were found entering the temple premises “inappropriately dressed” or even kissing within the temple sanctum. Another popular temple at Mangueshi, near Ponda, had imposed dress restrictions on people visiting the temple premises for “propriety” reasons.