Hindu Priests Declare Benoa Bay a Sacred Area

The Jakarta Post reports the religious leaders and high priests of The Indonesian Hindu Religious Council (PHDI) has formally issued an edict declaring Bali’s Benoa Bay a sacred area.

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Photo: thejakartapost.com/Ni Komang Erviani

Issued after a meeting of the Hindu religious hierarchy on Saturday, April 9, 2016, the declaration represents yet another obstacle for PT Tirta Wahana Bali Internasional (PT TWBI), a company owned by business tycoon Tommy Winata, in its plans to reclaim large portions of what was protected mangrove and turn it into a tourism, entertainment and luxury housing project.

The religious decree from the PDHI comes after some 30 traditional villages in Bali have stated their rejection of plans to reclaim Benoa Bay.

Despite mass demonstrations and formal opposition from village units and any local organizations, political leaders in Bali have been reluctant to take a public stand for or against the controversial project.

While the high priests were quick to point out that their declaration was not a response to the reclamation plan, its implication as a possibly insurmountable obstacle to the PT TWBI project is clear.

Speaking on behalf of 22 high priests who joined the meeting, Ida Pedanda Gede Bang Buruan Manuaba said: “We declare today that Benoa Bay is a sacred area that must be maintained and preserved.”

In the view of the Hindu religious leaders, Benoa Bay is home to a large number of sacred places and temples used for various religious ceremonies.

Putu Wirata Dwikora, chairman of PHDI’s Sabha Walaka (intellectual group), said the declaration meant the government must disallow the plans of PT TWBI that would violate areas sacred to Bali’s majority Hindus.

The decision was made based on recommendations from a team of nine high priests who conducted a study related to the reclamation project from October last year.

Source: balidiscovery.com / The Jakarta Post

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