Panaji: Two of Goa`s prime churches have disallowed tourists during religious service during the ongoing Holy Week, which will culminate in Easter on Sunday.
Non-Christians who want to pray are allowed, provided they sit through the entire service.
Special masses are being held at Se Cathedral and Basilica of Bom Jesus, two of the most important churches at Old Goa Heritage Complex, as part of the Holy Week celebration.
These 16th century architectural marvels, protected by Archaeological Survey of India as world heritage monuments, are also a tourist attraction with thousands flocking there every day.
"Tourists create disturbance. Sometimes they talk loudly, or many times they are badly dressed," said Fr Saturnino Dias, a priest attached to Se Cathedral, a church of St Catherine of Alexandaria.
"But if someone, irrespective of his religion, wants to attend services, he can do it provided he sits throughout," he said.
Dias said sometimes tourists casually walk around and click pictures when prayers are going on. "It is not right to allow anyone to disturb the prayers," he said.
Fr Savio Barretto, Rector of Basilica of Bom Jesus, said, "We don`t segregate people based on their religion. But they should come for prayers and not as a tourist."
The Basilica houses relics of St Francis Xavier, a missionary and the patron saint of Goa.
One of the senior priests said the ban on tourists during prayers was a long-standing norm, which was never implemented. "Now it has been decided to properly implement it by posting volunteers," he said.