A pilgrimage is a journey, often into an unknown or foreign place, where a person goes in search of new or expanded meaning about their self, others, nature, or a higher good, through the experience. It can lead to a personal transformation, after which the pilgrim returns to their daily life.
Pilgrimages frequently involve a journey or search of moral or spiritual significance. Typically, it is a journey to a shrine or other location of importance to a person's beliefs and faith, although sometimes it can be a metaphorical journey into someone's own beliefs.
Many religions attach spiritual importance to particular places: the place of birth or death of founders or saints, or to the place of their "calling" or spiritual awakening, or of their connection (visual or verbal) with the divine, to locations where miracles were performed or witnessed, or locations where a deity is said to live or be "housed", or any site that is seen to have special spiritual powers. Such sites may be commemorated with shrines or temples that devotees are encouraged to visit for their own spiritual benefit: to be healed or have questions answered or to achieve some other spiritual benefit.
A person who makes such a journey is called a pilgrim. As a common human experience, pilgrimage has been proposed as a Jungian archetype by Wallace Clift and Jean Dalby Clift.
The Holy Land acts as a focal point for the pilgrimages of the Abrahamic religions of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. According to a Stockholm University study in 2011, these pilgrims visit the Holy Land to touch and see physical manifestations of their faith, confirm their beliefs in the holy context with collective excitation, and connect personally to the Holy Land.
The Christian priest Frank Fahey writes that a pilgrim is "always in danger of becoming a tourist", and vice versa since travel always in his view upsets the fixed order of life at home, and identifies eight differences between the two:
|Faith||always contains "faith expectancy"||not required|
|Penance||search for wholeness||not required|
|Community||often solitary, but should be open to all||often with friends and family, or a chosen interest group|
|Sacred space||silence to create an internal sacred space||not present|
|Ritual||externalizes the change within||not present|
|Votive offering||leaving behind a part of oneself, letting go, in search of a better life||not present; the travel is the good life|
|Celebration||"victory over self", celebrating to remember||drinking to forget|
|Perseverance||commitment; "pilgrimage is never over"||holidays soon end|
Bahá'u'lláh decreed pilgrimage to two places in the Kitáb-i-Aqdas: the House of Bahá'u'lláh in Baghdad, Iraq, and the House of the Báb in Shiraz, Iran. Later, `Abdu'l-Bahá designated the Shrine of Bahá'u'lláh at Bahji, Israel as a site of pilgrimage.The designated sites for pilgrimage are currently not accessible to the majority of Bahá'ís, as they are in Iraq and Iran respectively, and thus when Bahá'ís currently refer to pilgrimage, it refers to a nine-day pilgrimage which consists of visiting the holy places at the Bahá'í World Centre in northwest Israel in Haifa, Acre, and Bahjí.
There are four places that Buddhists pilgrimage to:
Other pilgrimage places in India and Nepal connected to the life of Gautama Buddha are: Savatthi, Pataliputta, Nalanda, Gaya, Vesali, Sankasia, Kapilavastu, Kosambi, Rajagaha.
Other famous places for Buddhist pilgrimage include:
Christian pilgrimage was first made to sites connected with the birth, life, crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus. Aside from the early example of Origen in the third century, surviving descriptions of Christian pilgrimages to the Holy Land date from the 4th century, when pilgrimage was encouraged by church fathers including Saint Jerome, and established by Saint Helena, the mother of Constantine the Great.
The purpose of Christian pilgrimage was summarized by Pope Benedict XVI in this way:
To go on pilgrimage is not simply to visit a place to admire its treasures of nature, art or history. To go on pilgrimage really means to step out of ourselves in order to encounter God where he has revealed himself, where his grace has shone with particular splendour and produced rich fruits of conversion and holiness among those who believe. Above all, Christians go on pilgrimage to the Holy Land, to the places associated with the Lord’s passion, death and resurrection. They go to Rome, the city of the martyrdom of Peter and Paul, and also to Compostela, which, associated with the memory of Saint James, has welcomed pilgrims from throughout the world who desire to strengthen their spirit with the Apostle’s witness of faith and love.
Pilgrimages were, and are, also made to Rome and other sites associated with the apostles, saints and Christian martyrs, as well as to places where there have been apparitions of the Virgin Mary. A popular pilgrimage journey is along the Way of St. James to the Santiago de Compostela Cathedral, in Galicia, Spain, where the shrine of the apostle James is located. A combined pilgrimage was held every seven years in the three nearby towns of Maastricht, Aachen and Kornelimünster where many important relics could be seen (see: Pilgrimage of the Relics, Maastricht). Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales recounts tales told by Christian pilgrims on their way to Canterbury Cathedral and the shrine of Thomas Becket. Marian pilgrimages remain very popular in Latin America.
According to Karel Werner's Popular Dictionary of Hinduism, "most Hindu places of pilgrimage are associated with legendary events from the lives of various gods.... Almost any place can become a focus for pilgrimage, but in most cases they are sacred cities, rivers, lakes, and mountains."Hindus are encouraged to undertake pilgrimages during their lifetime, though this practice is not considered absolutely mandatory. Most Hindus visit sites within their region or locale.
The Ḥajj (Arabic : حَـجّ, main pilgrimage to Mecca) is one of the five pillars of Islam and a mandatory religious duty for Muslims that must be carried out at least once in their lifetime by all adult Muslims who are physically and financially capable of undertaking the journey, and can support their family during their absence. The gathering during the Hajj is considered the largest annual gathering of people in the world.
Another important place for Muslims is the city of Medina, the second holiest site in Islam, in Saudi Arabia, the final resting place of Muhammad in Al-Masjid an-Nabawi (The Mosque of the Prophet).The third holiest site in Islam, Al-Masjid Al-Aqsa was a major site for pilgrimage where Muslims gather to pray and visit the structures of the holy mosque especially the footprint of Muhammad before he ascended to paradise to meet with deceased prophets. However, due to conflict and disputes between Israel and Palestine the site has been less popular amongst Muslims to go to pilgrimage to in recent years.
The Ihram (white robes of pilgrimage) is meant to show equality of all Muslim pilgrims in the eyes of God, that there is no difference between a prince and a pauper. Ihram is also symbolic for holy virtue and pardon from all past sins.
While Solomon's Temple stood, Jerusalem was the centre of the Jewish religious life and the site of the Three Pilgrimage Festivals of Passover, Shavuot and Sukkot, and all adult men who were able were required to visit and offer sacrifices ( korbanot ) at the Temple. After the destruction of the Temple, the obligation to visit Jerusalem and to make sacrifices no longer applied. The obligation was restored with the rebuilding of the Temple, but following its destruction in 70 CE, the obligation to make a pilgrimage to Jerusalem and offer sacrifices again went into abeyance.
The western retaining wall of the Temple Mount, known as the Western Wall or "Wailing" Wall, is the remaining part of Second Jewish Temple in the Old City of Jerusalem is the most sacred and visited site for Jews. Pilgrimage to this area was off-limits to Jews from 1948 to 1967, when East Jerusalem was under Jordanian control.
There are numerous lesser Jewish pilgrimage destinations, mainly tombs of tzadikim , throughout the Land of Israel and all over the world, including: Hebron; Bethlehem; Mt. Meron; Netivot; Uman, Ukraine; Silistra, Bulgaria; Damanhur, Egypt; and many others.
The Sikh religion does not place great importance on pilgrimage. Guru Nanak Dev was asked "Should I go and bathe at pilgrimage places?" and he replied: "God's name is the real pilgrimage place which consists of contemplation of the word of God, and the cultivation of inner knowledge."
Eventually, however, Amritsar and Harmandir Saheb (the Golden Temple) became the spiritual and cultural centre of the Sikh faith, and if a Sikh goes on pilgrimage it is usually to this place.
The Panj Takht (Punjabi: ਪੰਜ ਤਖ਼ਤ) are the five revered gurdwaras in India that are considered the thrones or seats of authority of Sikhism and are traditionally considered a pilgrimage.
Mazu, also spelled as Matsu, is the most famous sea goddess in the Chinese southeastern sea area, Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan.
Mazu Pilgrimage is more likely as an event (or temple fair), pilgrims are called as "Xiang Deng Jiao" ( pinyin: xiāng dēng jiǎo, it means "lantern feet" in Chinese), they would follow the Goddess's (Mazu) palanquin from her own temple to another Mazu temple. By tradition, when the village Mazu palanquin passes, the residents would offer free water and food to those pilgrims along the way.
There are 2 main Mazu pilgrimages in Taiwan, it usually hold between lunar January and April, depends on Mazu's will.
In Iran, there are pilgrimage destinations called pirs in several provinces, although the most familiar ones are in the province of Yazd.In addition to the traditional Yazdi shrines, new sites may be in the process of becoming pilgrimage destinations. The ruins are the ruins of ancient fire temples. One such site is the ruin of the Sassanian era Azargoshnasp Fire Temple in Iran's Azarbaijan Province. Other sites are the ruins of fire temples at Rey, south of the capital Tehran, and the Firouzabad ruins sixty kilometres south of Shiraz in the province of Pars.
Atash Behram ("Fire of victory") is the highest grade of fire temple in Zoroastrianism. It has 16 different "kinds of fire", that is, fires gathered from 16 different sources.Currently there are 9 Atash Behram, one in Yazd, Iran and the rest in Western India. They have become a pilgrimage destination.
In India the cathedral fire temple that houses the Iranshah Atash Behram, located in the small town of Udvada in the west coast province of Gujarat, is a pilgrimage destination.
The main pilgrimage sites associated with the spiritual teacher Meher Baba are Meherabad, India, where Baba completed the "major portion"of his work and where his tomb is now located, and Meherazad, India, where Baba resided later in his life.
A pilgrim is a traveler who is on a journey to a holy place. Typically, this is a physical journey to some place of special significance to the adherent of a particular religious belief system. In the spiritual literature of Christianity, the concept of pilgrim and pilgrimage may refer to the experience of life in the world or to the inner path of the spiritual aspirant from a state of wretchedness to a state of beatitude.
The Holy Land is an area roughly located between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea that also includes the Eastern Bank of the Jordan River. Traditionally, it is synonymous both with the biblical Land of Israel and with the region of Palestine. The term "Holy Land" usually refers to a territory roughly corresponding to the modern State of Israel, the Palestinian territories, western Jordan, and parts of southern Lebanon and of southwestern Syria. Jews, Christians, and Muslims all regard it as holy.
Karbala or Kerbala is a city in central Iraq, located about 100 km (62 mi) southwest of Baghdad, and a few dozen miles east of Lake Milh. Karbala is the capital of Karbala Governorate, and has an estimated population of 700,000 people (2015).
A shrine is a holy or sacred site dedicated to a specific deity, ancestor, hero, martyr, saint, daemon, or similar figure of respect, wherein they are venerated or worshipped. Shrines often contain idols, relics, or other such objects associated with the figure being venerated. A shrine at which votive offerings are made is called an altar.
Pushkar is a city in the Ajmer district in the Indian state of Rajasthan. It is situated about 10 km (6.2 mi) northwest of Ajmer and about 150 kilometres (93 mi) southwest of Jaipur. It is a pilgrimage site for Hindus and Sikhs. Pushkar has many temples. Most of the temples and ghats in Pushkar are from the 18th century and later, because many temples were destroyed during Muslim conquests in the area. Subsequently, the destroyed temples were rebuilt. The most famous among Pushkar temples is the red spired Brahma Temple built by Gurjar samrat Pushkar, who is father of Vedmata Gayatri, who was a chechi kanya married to lord brahma. It is considered a sacred city by the Hindus particularly in Shaktism, and meat and eggs consumption are forbidden in the city. Pushkar is located on the shore of Pushkar Lake, which has many ghats where pilgrims bathe. Pushkar is also significant for its Gurdwaras for Guru Nanak and Guru Gobind Singh. One of the bathing ghats is called Gobind ghat built by the Sikhs in the memory of Guru Gobind Singh.
Circumambulation is the act of moving around a sacred object or idol.
The city of Jerusalem is sacred to many religious traditions, including the Abrahamic religions Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, which consider it a holy city. Some of the most sacred places for each of these religions are found in Jerusalem and the one shared between all three is the Temple Mount.
Parikrama or Pradakshina refers to circumambulation of sacred places to imbibe their energy in Sikh, Hindu, Jain or Buddhist context, and the path along which this is performed. Parikrama means "the path surrounding something" in Sanskrit, and is also known as Pradakshina, representing circumambulation. Both words are mostly used in the context of religious deities in a temple, sacred rivers, sacred hills and a close cluster of temples, and "doing a parikrama" as a symbol of prayer is an integral part of Hindu worship. In Hinduism and other Indian religions, the Parikrama inside temples or sacred sites is traditionally clockwise.
The most important places in Buddhism are located in the Gangetic plains of Northern India and Southern Nepal, in the area between New Delhi and Rajgir. This is the area where Gautama Buddha lived and taught, and the main churches connected to his life are now important places of pilgrimage for both Buddhists and Hindus. However, many countries that are or were predominantly Buddhist have shrines and places which can be visited as a pilgrimage.
A holy city is a city important to the history or faith of a specific religion. Such cities may also contain at least one headquarters complex which constitutes a major destination of human traffic, or pilgrimage to the city, especially for major ceremonies and observances. A holy city is a symbolic city, representing attributes beyond its natural characteristics. Marketing experts have suggested that holy cities may be the oldest brands, and more specifically, place brands because they have value added via the perception of religious adherents.
Hinglaj Mata, also known as Hinglaj Devi, Hingula Devi and Nani Mandir, is a Hindu temple in Hinglaj, a town on the Makran coast in the Lasbela district of Balochistan, and is the middle of the Hingol National Park. It is one of the 51 Shakti Peethas of the Hindu goddess Sati. It is one of the two Shakti Peethas in Balochistan, other being Shivaharkaray. It is a form of Durga or Devi in a mountain cavern on the banks of the Hingol River. Over the last three decades the place has gained increasing popularity and became a unifying point of reference for Pakistan's many Hindu communities. Hinglaj Yatra is the largest Hindu pilgrimage in Balochistan. More than 250,000 people take part in the Hinglaj Yathra during the spring.
Religious tourism, spiritual tourism, sacred tourism, or faith tourism, is a type of tourism with two main subtypes: pilgrimage, meaning travel for religious or spiritual purposes, and the viewing of religious monuments and artefacts, a branch of sightseeing.
Christianity has a strong tradition of pilgrimages, both to sites relevant to the New Testament narrative and to sites associated with later saints or miracles.
Yātrā, in Hinduism and other Indian religions, generally means a pilgrimage to holy places such as confluences of sacred rivers, places associated with Hindu epics such as the Mahabharata and Ramayana, and other sacred pilgrimage sites. Tīrtha-yātrā refers to a pilgrimage to a holy site and is generally undertaken in groups. One who goes on a yatra is known as a yatri. As per Vedic Hindu Dharma Shastras, a Yatri is supposed to do Yatra barefoot. He/she should travel without umbrellas, vehicles etc., to get the benefit of the Yatra. At present these rules are not followed by many pilgrims.
The main religions in the Indian state of Bihar are Hinduism and Islam (17%). Other religions are practiced by small minorities. Places in Bihar have important historical and cultural associations with Buddhism, Sikhism and Jainism along with Hinduism.
In addition to the three mosques accepted by all Muslims as holy sites, Shi'ite Muslims consider sites associated with Muhammad, his family members and descendants, to be holy. After Mecca and Medina, Najaf, Karbala and Jerusalem are the most revered by Shias.
A holy place is a place that people consider holy and/or a religion considers to be of special religious significance. A holy place may be visited by visitors, known as pilgrims.
In religion and spirituality, a pilgrimage is a very long journey or search of great moral significance. Sometimes, it is a journey to a sacred area or shrine of importance to innate faith. Members of every major religion participate in pilgrimages. A person who makes such a journey is called a pilgrim.
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