Priests at the Mahalsa Narayani Temple in Mardol posted a sign warning “entry restricted for foreign tourists” while others imposed a strict dress code for visitors to protect the ‘sanctity’ of their places of worship.
The ban was revealed amid growing concern in Goa about the behavior of western tourists, most of whom are from Britain, and their lack of respect for the state’s conservative Christian and Hindu cultures.
The state’s reputation as a relaxed tropical beach paradise has been severely dented recently by a series of murders and rapes of Western tourists, including the Devon schoolgirl Scarlett Keeling, amid lurid stories of drunken behaviour and violent drug gangs.
Mahalsa Narayani Temple committee president Vinod Vaikunth Kamat said girls had wandered into his temple “semi-naked”, couples had been found caressing, while some had arrived in see-through tops and skimpy bikinis.
“We have witnessed women, mostly foreigners, dressed very scantily, exposing much of their bodies which is not acceptable to us, so we were forced to impose restrictions on their entry,” he said.
“Many instances of women wearing bikinis and see-through clothes were reported in the temples. There were some incidents where these foreign tourists were seen kissing on temple premises and dumping used garlands. Its not just temples, some Churches in Goa are also facing these issues,” he added.
He said while the committee wants tourists to visit, “we won’t allow semi-naked visitors into the temples.” Sabina Martins, a campaigner for Goan women’s rights, said the ban reflected a concern that foreign visitors do not respect local peoples’ culture and traditions.
“Wearing bikinis at beaches is acceptable to people in Goa but when they start arriving at the local bank and other public places, its becomes an issue. The locals question when they cannot go to a bank in a bikini in the USA, UK or Russia, why do they do it here?” It is seen as an abuse of Goan hospitality,” she said.