Tourist Ordered To Pay For Forgiveness Ritual After Climbing Sacred Tree In Bali
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An Australian backpacker has been fined and ordered to 'pay for forgiveness' after climbing a sacred tree in Indonesia for a selfie.
Samuel Lockton travelled to Bali earlier this month for a sightseeing tour, but managed to leave locals furious when he was seen scaling a holy banyan in the grounds of a Hindu temple.
Hindus believe all banyans are ancient trees representing the Earth's divine creator.
On 11 June, the holidaymaker was seen standing shirtless among the vines of the 32ft tree, which had been growing for more than 100 years in the Kediri district. Watch below:
Angered residents alerted the police immediately about the breach and when question by Balinese authorities, Lockton said he was 'channelling his energy into his hobby' by climbing trees.
The tourist also claimed he was unaware of the tree's sacred properties and was only recording video content to post on his social media.
In light of the incident, Lockton was informed that he had to pay for and attend a mareresik ceremony - which is a cleansing ritual - on Monday, 13 June.
Police had arranged for community elders and Dalem Dakdakan Temple leaders to perform the ritual in a bid to appease the anger of the spirits he had disturbed in an act of forgiveness.
Lockton was subsequently ordered to pay a fine of 500,000 IDR (£28), but only had £8 on him at the time of the ritual, so told police he would make the payment in the following days.
He has now been sent to an immigration facility to be sent home.
Speaking about the incident, Police Chief Commissioner Adjutant Ranefli Dian Candra said: "He claimed he climbed the tree to make personal online content, in line with his hobby.
"The fine was approved by the traditional leaders and representatives of the residents present. For the next steps, the concerned will be submitted to immigration for further processing.
"The foreigner has been secured by the Kediri Police before being handed over to the Class I TPI Denpasar Immigration Office."
Lockton isn’t the only tourist who has been caught filming content at a sacred tree on the Indonesian island in recent weeks.
Last month, Russian yoga influencer Alina Yoga got into trouble with the Balinese authorities after she posed naked at a 700-year-old weeping paperbark tree known locally as Kayu Putih for Instagram.
After hearing about the breach, the influencer deleted the images from her account and posted an apology video on May 4.
She said: "I'm so embarrassed, I didn't mean to offend you in any way, absolutely no knowledge of this place.
"I just prayed under a tree and went straight to the police station to explain this incident and apologise."