Goa church to drape ‘indecently’ dressed visitors

Panaji, May 29 (IANS) The “indecently” dressed visitors to the 16th century Basilica of Bom Jesus in Goa, a must-do on most tourists’ itineraries, will now be offered shawls to cover themselves up before they enter the shrine, a priest said Wednesday.

“We had been receiving complaints that tourists were not dressing properly for the church. Many people felt offended by it. We were forced to take this step,” Fr. Savio Barretto, rector of the church, told IANS.

Last year, the church authorities had put up signboards and sought help from guides to ensure that tourists were appropriately dressed when they visited the baroque-style church, endorsed by the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco) as a world heritage site.

However, the efforts did not make much difference. “Now we have volunteers who will ask those inappropriately dressed to drape shawls, which we will provide,” Barretto said. The shawls and stoles will have to be returned to the volunteers after the tour to the Church is over, he added.

Barretto said the grouse over “inappropriate” clothing was common both with women and men. “Even men come here wearing beachwear. They would have to wear the shawl too,” he said.

The church, some 15 km from here, holds the mortal remains of Spanish Saint St. Francis Xavier, who evangalised large parts of Portuguese-held Goa and is known as the region’s patron saint.

Hindu temples in Goa, especially those in the temple town of Ponda, 30 km from here, too have put up signboards asking visitors to come wearing “decent clothing”, failing which they would not be allowed into the temple.

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