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A married sulinggih (high priest/priestess) couple in Bali are relinquishing their status as sanctified figures among the island’s Hindu community after a photo of them kissing went viral and outraged the public.

On Dec. 23, Ida Rsi Bhujangga Lokanatha and Ida Rsi Gayatri held a party to celebrate the latter’s birthday, in which they were photographed kissing.

Over the past weekend, the photo attracted heat from those in Bali who expected their sulinggih to be above worldly pleasures.

Responding to the criticism, Ida Rsi Bhujangga Lokanatha, who is still listed as the secretary of the country’s leading authority on Hinduism the Parisada Hindu Dharma Indonesia (PHDI), said he had no shame in the photo and was proud of the love he shares with his wife. 

Ida Rsi Bhujangga Lokanatha was supposed to explain himself to the PHDI this weekend, but cancelled the appointment over health reasons.

Amid the public pressure, the pair announced this morning that they are stepping down as sulinggih.

“I’m sorry that this photo went viral. It was just a peck, not a smooch, but it was perceived differently on social media,” Ida Rsi Bhujangga Lokanatha said.

“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.”

Ida Rsi Bhujangga Lokanatha said he will still spread religious teachings and values following his resignation.

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