Dressing fit for the Gods – What to wear in Bali?
(The stunning Tanah Lot complex by the sea)
How would you dress for God?
In Bali, Indonesia, this question has easily been answered. The island’s main religion is Hinduism, and you can feel the magical presence of the different gods when you drive through the island, especially in Ubud. Signs pointing you to Pura’s (Temples). You may see some small stupa like buildings with guardian statues in the front. You may walk in and be greeted by the colorful sights of statues with bulging eyes and colorful bodies staring at you. There are many of these temples, and more get built every day almost as a shrine.
(Pura Tirta Empul. Bring offerings, say a prayer and cleanse. Repeat. Move from the left fountain all the way to the right)
(Even the statues are covered up)
So what would you wear? In every temple you go to, there are parts of you that must be covered. Essentially its from your waist to below your knees. Though there seems to be variations and a level of acceptance on how low it goes. If you don’t have anything to cover you up, don’t worry. Every main tourist temple in Bali tends to have someone at the front who will lend you a sarong, essentially a piece of long cloth to wrap around your waist. If you don’t have one and walk in, you may end up with a guard running after you and yelling at you to get out. Trust me, I found out the wrong way.
(Sash around the waist is a must. Sarong is a must too)
(Cover up in a sarong, even for men)
Apart from covering your bottom, you also need to wear a sash around your waist. Mostly a short and soft chiffon scarf. Again, if you don’t have one no worries as the people up front will likely lend you one with your entry ticket. You do not pay to borrow/ rent it. It’s not even a bad thing really, since us ladies always know that having a defined waistline tends to be flattering. Most of the time the sash is yellow, so perhaps optimize your packing for that. Also do note signs that will warn women against entering the temple if you are having your period. You must remember in this part of the world, you are not considered ‘clean’ when this happens.
(Notice those in the right in purple skirts? yeaps, do you really want to share sarongs?)
As for the top, sleeveless tops are generally fine (why only cover your bum? I don’t know. Maybe they’re against bums?) so either plan to have long skirts or maxi dresses or at least one for the days you are entering the temples if the thought of wearing one that has been shared disgusts you.
(The rules are a little vague. See through pants/ jumpsuit is apparently not an issue)
(Preparing for prayers by the sea)
Also, to note, one of the famous products of Bali is the Uluwatu handmade lace and embroidery. Worn by locals in their local gear below. I strongly recommend getting them here if your are coming to visit the island. Breezy and classy!
(You have to look good when making an offering to the Gods!)