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Inscriptions of Indonesia

Entrance of a Hindu Temple in Bali

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In nowadays’ so-called global village, long-distance travellers will almost unavoidably be confronted with cultures and religions they do not really understand. Let us have a look at the following example.

The photo below, which shows the entrance of a Hindu temple on the Bali island, was sent to me by a young European friend who during a journey to Bali wanted to visit this temple with his young fiancée (whom he has married then – congratulations!).

^ Original texts

Placard near the entrance of the temple

Photo: Bruno Fritsch 2001


English Translation Posted


To maintain the holy aspect of the temple please observe the following:

1.  Women during menstruation are strictly forbidden to enter the temple.

2.  Dress decently before entering the temple premises

Thank you


Translation of the French Translation Posted


To maintain the holy aspect of the temple please observe the following:

1.  Ladies are begged not to visit this temple during their period of menstruation.

2.   You are begged to be dressed decently for visiting the temple.

Thank you


Translation of the Japanese( ?) / Chinese( ?) Translation Posted

Who knows the language into which the text has been translated here and how it should be translated into English? Please tell us! Thank you in advance!

Translation of the Original Text

Who knows the language in which the original text is written and how it should be translated into English? Please tell us! Thank you in advance!

Comment on the Translations

It is sometimes interesting to compare different translations of the same text. So is it here. But be careful not to draw rash conclusions! Consider that the differences may come from different sources:

-  from the translater’s translating capacity

-  from the opinion (perhaps unfounded) that the translator or his/her client has about the nation respectively the nations into whose language he/she is translating (But keep in mind that certain languages address more than one nation or even many nations anyway.)

-  from the structure of the target language and the difficulty of matching it with that of the source language

-  from the conceptual universe of the relevant languages (Any language offers a different « analysis » of reality, the latter being a continuous and indistinct space, a priori.)

-  from the idiomatic expressions existing in the relevant languages


Comment on the Contents

Without discussing this with them personally, I can imagine the confusion or disapproval of these young Europeans in front of this placard.

But I can also imagine the religious, psychological, and social problems that modern Europeans’ current opinions may cause to a believer or a dignitary of the relevant religion.

Hence there is a bigger problem. What shall we do?

My personal opinion: Respect other people’s religious beliefs and habits! Why that?

-  You will feel better.

-  This is part of politeness and respect for the hospitality of the foreign country.

-  This will be your contribution to a peaceful co-existence of religions and cultures.

Won’t you take off your hat before entering a Christian church, but put a hat on when entering a synagogue, and remove your shoes before entering a mosque? You will dress suit and tie when visiting an important boss, and only few decades ago, even a European Christian woman would never leave her house without putting a headscarf on her hair...

Remember that religions are anchored in hearts as well as in societies. Even things we could never accept for ourselves in our own country, may play an important and virtually irreplaceable role in another society without our knowing it.

And remember that one of the big problems of present Europe is all people’s, not only young people’s absolute lack of respect for any authority and any traditional value, as well as the resulting lack of orientation. Those who live in glass houses should not throw stones.


The island of Bali, known to Europeans by its temples, its beaches, and its discos, is a Hindu islet within Indonesia, which has been Islamic in the majority since the 16th century. Hinduism took roots there some thousand years ago. Until now, only the north of the island is Islamic. The population of Bali is largely appreciated by touristes for its mild, peaceful, and friendly character. It is probably because of this character that the island has not known those murderous religious confrontations that have taken place on other Indonesian islands and elsewhere in the world.

The bombs that killed almost 200 persons in the south of the island in 2002 are all the more traumatising for its inhabitants. In my opinion, those bombs have nothing to do with a conflict between the two important religions of the island, but with that conflict opposing the rich USA and the poor part of the rest of the world.

Hans-Rudolf Hower 2002

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Last update: August 19, 2018