Religious authorities to have a say in Indonesia's ancient temple management

The Indonesian department of religious affairs will have a say over the management of its ancient temples such as the Hindu Prambanan and Buddhist Borobudur, which is currently managed by the Ministry of Tourism and Culture. The change is the result of a call by local Hindu and Buddhist leaders to recognise these temples, tourist sites in a predominantly Muslim country, as sacred spaces still used for pilgrimage by their local communities.

photo credit: hildo trazo

Religious Affairs Ministry to Help Manage Historic Temples

Jakarta Globe, 16 March 2010

In response to calls from Hindu and Buddhist leaders, Religious Affairs Minister Suryadharma Ali said his ministry would play a role in the management of historic temples in the country.

“In the past, the government has only looked at temples and historic sites from the point of view of tourism and culture. In fact, temples and historic sites have an important religious function,” Suryadharma said during a ceremony on Monday at Prambanan Temple in Klaten, Central Java, to welcome Nyepi, or the Day of Silence.

He said his ministry would work with other agencies to increase public appreciation for the country’s historic temples, while also facilitating their use as active places of worship.

Hindu and Buddhist leaders have asked the Ministry of Religious Affairs to jointly manage temples with the Ministry of Tourism and Culture.

Among their demands is that Hindus and Buddhists going to temples to worship not be charged tourist entrance fees.

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Author: Noel Tan

Dr Noel Hidalgo Tan is the Senior Specialist in Archaeology at SEAMEO-SPAFA, the Southeast Asian Regional Centre for Archaelogy and Fine Arts.

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