‘High priest and priestess’ step down after photo of them kissing sparks outrage

A high priest and priestess in Indonesia have been forced to step down from their positions after a kiss between the two caused outrage.

Ida Rsi Bhujangga Lokanatha and Ida Rsi Gayatri, both known as sulinggih in the country, have both relinquished their status in Bali after a “peck” between them in a photo.

The two, who are a married couple, were photographed having a kiss at Ida Rsi Gayatri’s birthday on December 23.

However, once the photo was shared on social media, they received criticism from certain sections of the public.

Local reports suggest that both the high priest and priestess should be above worldly pleasures such as kissing.

Sulinggih are sanctified figures among the island’s Hindu community, but the pair’s actions upset members of the public.

Ida Rsi Bhujangga Lokanatha was supposed to explain himself to the Parisada Hindu Dharma Indonesia (PHDI) but cancelled the appointment over health reasons this weekend.

However, due to pressure from the public, the couple announced that they are stepping down as sulinggih today.

On his announcement regarding stepping down, Ida Rsi Bhujangga Lokanatha, who is secretary of the PHDI, apologised for the photo going viral but insisted it was not a full kiss.

He also reportedly said he was not ashamed of the photo as it showed the love he shares with his wife.

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As reported by news outlet Coconuts Bali, Ida Rsi Bhujangga Lokanatha: “I’m sorry that this photo went viral. It was just a peck, not a smooch, but it was perceived differently on social media.

“I realize that this matter will never be dropped and we will always be panned for defiling sulinggihs. That’s why we have decided to stop being sulinggihs. We bid farewell.”

Although he has stepped down from the position, Ida Rsi Bhujangga Lokanatha said he would still continue to spread the religious teachings and values of the Hinduism despite the outrage he received.

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