Bali, Indonesia, March 2, 2005--Police on the Indonesian resort island of Bali are hard-pressed to explain the sudden proliferation of white markings at hundreds of temples across the deeply superstitious Hindu island.
Local residents view the signs as a divine warning.
The white chalk marks--crosses, dashes or two parallel diagonal bars--began to appear simultaneously on several temples starting on February 18 and have even spread to the neighbouring island of Lombok, press reports said.
One Balinese priest, Ida Pedande Gde Mas Diatmika, pointed to two small white crosses marking a small stone altar in his family temple compound. Yet another sacred monument bore a smaller cross in the same white chalk.
"We think that it is a divine message, a warning," said the respected priest of Banjar Panti village. His long greying hair was carefully wound in a topknot and a dash of sandalwood powder marked his forehead.
Villagers who regularly visit Diatmika's familial temple to leave offerings in return for holy water to bless their homes and keep evil at bay, said the markings were discovered early one morning last week.
There had been a sudden power cut, and the village dogs had howled in concert the previous evening.
Similar signs have since been found in hundreds of other Hindu temples across Bali, known as "the island of the Gods."
"This is something hard to accept on the logical plane," police spokesman Commissioner I Gusti Gde Suryasa said. "The people see the phenomenon with a religious perspective. We are looking at it from a judicial point of view," Suryasa said.
He quickly added that suspects had yet to be found.