Goa church to enforce tourist dress code

PANAJI, India - Goa's most historic church is to follow the example of some Hindu temples in the Indian state and enforce a dress code for tourists, following complaints over foreigners' inappropriate clothing.

The rector of the Basilica of Bom Jesus, Father Savio Barretto, said officials will screen pilgrims and visitors coming to the 16th century church from this September.

Anyone "improperly dressed" will be given shawls to cover up, he said. Photography would also be banned inside the church, he added.

The move follows that of Goa's Mahalasa Narayani temple, which last month banned foreign tourists entirely after complaints from worshippers about scantily clad women sightseers.

Two other temples have separately introduced a strict dress code. There have also been complaints about inappropriate conduct inside places of worship from tourists unaware of religious practices.

A right-wing Hindu organisation is meanwhile trying to drum up support for more of Goa's 1,000-plus temples to introduce dress codes for visitors.

The Basilica of Bom Jesus, nine kilometres (six miles) from the state capital Panaji, houses the bones of the leading Jesuit missionary St Francis Xavier, who died in 1552.

It is one of a cluster of historic religious sites in the western Indian state that are a draw for tens of thousands of pilgrims and tourists every year.