Dress code appropriate at religious sites in Malaysia
Religious bodies are generally agreeable to the dress code applied to visitors at Batu Caves because it is not only a tourist destination but also a holy site for the Hindus in the country, while neat attire and good conduct are fundamental etiquette while visiting such places.
Tien Hou Temple, another renowned tourist attraction in town, has also implemented strict dress code at places where the deities are displayed for public worshipping, and this includes barring tourists from making indecent postures while taking photos of the deities.
Datuk Woo Ser Cai, president of Selangor & KL Hainan Association (owner of Tien Hou Temple) told Sin Chew Daily it is impractical to implement full dress code restrictions throughout the temple compound due to its size, and dress code is therefore applied only at shrines where the deities are displayed.
“The Grand Hall is the holiest and most solemn place in Thien Hou Temple and strict controls have to be implemented there. However, to implement controls throughout the temple is difficult, especially in view of the fact that most of the tourists are lightly dressed.”
Similar to Batu Caves, Tien Hou Temple is also considered a sacred religious site and it is therefore appropriate to apply some sort of dress code there. “I feel the tourism ministry should make an effort to educate the tourists on the etiquette of visiting tourist attractions that are also religious sites.”
Malaysia Hindu Sangam president Datuk RS. Mohan Shanmugam said the MHS had offered its views on the dress code to the Batu Caves management, and he was glad the management had decided to implement strict dress code. He hoped the tourism ministry would coordinate by educating foreign tourists, in particular Westerners, as well as the tour guides and travel operators.
Mohan said Batu Caves is not only a famous tourist attraction, it is also a holy site for the Hindus. Visitors must respect the religious etiquette and taboos when entering the holy site irrespective of their religions.
“Religious activities are held regularly in Batu Caves, such as Thaipusam festival. Tourists must try to refrain from inappropriately exposing their bodies in front of devout Hindus especially during the religious festivals.” He told Sin Chew Daily, Batu Caves should not overexpose itself to tourism. On the contrary, it must focus on organising of religious events and turn Batu Caves into a religious sanctuary first and sightseeing destination second.
With effect from July, visitors to Batu Caves will have to conform to six regulations, including not wearing shorts and mini skirts, jogging along the stairway, bringing in pets, smoking and spitting at Batu Caves. Volunteers will be stationed at the entrance to ensure strict enforcement.
Batu Caves is not the first tourist site to have implemented strict dress code on visitors. Many tourist attractions here and abroad have done so, including the Putrajaya Mosque, the Grand Palace, the Emerald Buddha Temple and Wat Pho in Bangkok, the Khmer Rouge Holocaust Museum in Cambodia as well as various Buddhist shrines in China, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Japan, among others.
Take the Grand Palace in Bangkok for instance, visitors will have to go through inspections at the entrance and those wearing singlets, shorts, mini-skirts, tight-fitting clothing or indecent attire will be asked to put on special coverings before they are allowed to enter the palace ground. Source for dress code appropriate at religious sites in Malaysia.