What Fatwa? Bali’s Yoga Tourists Follow Their Bliss.

Travel Blog  •  Julia Ross  •  03.11.09 | 10:58 AM ET

Hundreds of yoga tourists in Bali have now joined author Salman Rushdie in an exclusive club: those who have defied a fatwa. This week’s International Bali-India Yoga Festival—which drew participants from the U.S., Germany, Sweden and Japan—proceeded as planned despite a recent edict by Indonesia’s Ulema Council banning the practice of yoga for all Indonesian Muslims.

The New York Times reports that festival organizers initially conceived the event to boost spiritual tourism on the island and decided to go forward with it as a public show of force against the fatwa. Bali’s governor, no doubt aware of the island’s growing yoga tourism potential, has said he will not enforce the ruling.

Who knew sun salutations could be this fraught?

Julia Ross is a Washington, DC-based writer and frequent contributor to World Hum. She has lived in China and Taiwan, where she was a Fulbright scholar and Mandarin student. Her writing has appeared in the Washington Post, Time, Christian Science Monitor, Plenty and other publications. Her essay, Six Degrees of Vietnam, was shortlisted for "The Best American Travel Writing 2009."

2 Comments for What Fatwa? Bali’s Yoga Tourists Follow Their Bliss.

Fahmi Rizwansyah 03.11.09 | 7:37 PM ET

Why do you look very disturbed by the fatwa? You need to know, the fatwa is only binding on Muslims is not another religion. New fatwa requires a long socialization and likely does not bind to the Muslims of different mahzab.
Relax any time, Indonesia is a country of tolerance to the high interest of all religions here. We are not living in the middle East and we have learned since 8 century perspective on the archipelago.
Why do you fuss?

Bruce Pohlmann 03.12.09 | 9:36 AM ET

The MUI fatwas are not taken seriously by many Muslims in Indonesia. Most of my friends find their silly proclamations about yoga and smoking to be just that. To say that holding the festival is somehow a show of force indicates that the writer in the Times has little understanding of the realities of Indonesian society and culture.

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