Tourism

TikTokers banned from sacred sites in Nepal

Dancing Zoomers and clout-chasing internet celebrities have found themselves in trouble with TikTokers facing a ban from sacred sites in Nepal.

Religious and historic attractions such as the Buddhist pilgrimage site Lumbini, Kathmandu’s Boudhanath Stupa, and the Ram Janaki and Gadhimi among others have banned TikTok creators.

“Making TikTok by playing loud music creates a nuisance for pilgrims from all over the world who come to the birthplace of Gautama Buddha,” the Lumbini Development Trust’s Sanuraj Shakya told Rest of World.

“We have banned TikTok-making in and around the sacred garden, where the main temples are located.”

If you look up the famed sites on TikTok you’ll mainly find people who are appreciative of the sites; showing them off in a respectful way. However, some comprise young people dancing their way through the locations, which the local staff have taken umbrage with.

Security cameras and guards have been put at sacred sites to catch and eject rulebreakers. They have also erected “No TikTok” signs to keep the internet creators from shooting on the premises.

A sign in Kathmandu stating the ban on making TikToks. It reads, “It is prohibited to shoot TikTok on the premises of this world heritage site. Offenders will be liable to punishment as per Nepal government’s rules.”

“It is usually young women in groups that spend a lot of time making TikTok. They need to play the same music over and over again to get that perfect shot,” Salman Khan, who frequently visits the sacred Lumbini garden and resents this trend, told Rest of World. 

“For them, it’s fun getting all the likes, but for visitors like us, it’s disturbing.”

However, some TikTok users are saying that the bans are unnecessary.

“TikTok is just a medium for entertainment, it doesn’t need to be taken this seriously,” Manisha Adhikary, a resident of Kathmandu who has a few hundred followers on TikTok, told Rest of World.

“As TikTok content creators, we need to understand that we don’t necessarily have to shoot our videos in famous religious places, if doing so is restricted. It’s creativity that matters, not the place where you shoot your videos.”

Those who campaign for freedom of expression argue that blanket bans of this form are problematic.

“Placing blanket bans is the easiest thing to do,” lawyer and columnist Gyan Basnet said.

“Officials should have requested TikTok content producers to respect the sanctity of the religious places, instead of banning something outright.”

TikTok has become a strong medium to show off tourist destinations and these locations, and TikTok as a medium, “should not be ignored,” Basnet argues.


Featured Image: iStock/VittoriaChe



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