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Pilgrimage

Pilgrimage. The literal or metaphorical movement to a condition or place of holiness or healing. Pilgrimage may be interior or exterior. Interior pilgrimage is the movement of a life from a relatively abject condition to the goal (ultimate or proximate) in a particular religion: John Bunyan's The Pilgrim's Progress is a classic Christian expression of this theme, particularly as expressed in its full title, … from this World to That which is to Come: Delivered under the Similitude of a Dream, wherein is Discovered the Manner of his Setting Out, his Dangerous Journey, and Safe Arrival at the Desired Country. Life becomes metaphorically a pilgrimage. Interior pilgrimage is stressed by Sikhs. Exterior pilgrimage is a journey to some place which is either itself associated with the resources or goals of a religion, or which is the location of objects which may assist the pilgrim—e.g. relics. The reasons for pilgrimage are extremely varied. They may, for example, be for healing, holiness, cleansing, penance, education, gratitude, in response to a vow, to recapitulate an event which occurred at the pilgrimage centre (as, for example, to see for oneself a reported vision; or, somewhat differently, to re-enact events in the past, as in the Muslim ḥajj, or in the Christian retracing of the Via Dolorosa in Jerusalem). Pilgrimage frequently, and not surprisingly, takes on the character of a rite of passage; and as such, the stage of liminality exhibits the inversion of values and status; pilgrimages may then take on the character of a holiday, in which everyday life and its values are suspended—as in Chaucer's Canterbury Tales.

Judaism



The major practice is that of making ʿaliyah to Jerusalem, as required in Deuteronomy 16. 16. According to the Torah, all male Jews should go up to Jerusalem three times a year, on Passover, Shavuʿot, and Sukkot (Exodus 34. 23). Since the Six Day War and the reunification of the city, the remaining wall of the Temple (Wailing Wall) has become the centre of Jewish pilgrimage. The tradition of going up to Jerusalem for the pilgrim festivals has been, to some extent, resumed, particularly during the intermediate days of Sukkot. Because there is no temple, no sacrifices are performed.

Christianity



There is no record of the earliest Christian pilgrimages, but the practice of journeying to the Holy Land received much impetus from the visit of the empress Helena, mother of Constantine, in 326. Peregrinatio Etheriae (The Pilgrimage of Etheria) is a vivid account of a pilgrimage to the Holy Land at the end of the 4th cent. Rome became a centre of pilgrimage because of its connection with Sts Peter and Paul; and other centres proliferated through the connection with other saints. Notable was the supposed burial place of St James, Santiago at Compostela in NW Spain: it became the goal of the famous ‘pilgrims' route’ to Compostela (see J. S. Stone, The Cult of Santiago …, 1927). The association of pilgrimage with indulgences and credulity (especially in relation to relics) made pilgrimage highly suspect to the Reformation; but it has revived in the 20th cent., not least as a consequence of the lucrative tourist trade. Devotion to Mary has led to increasing claims of visions of Mary, with consequent pilgrimages, e.g. to Lourdes, Fatima, and Medjugorje.

Islam



See ḤAJJ; ZIYARA.

Hinduism



See TĪRATH; TĪRTHA. Pilgrimage is supremely important in Hinduism, both in an interior and exterior sense. The interior pilgrimage is epitomized in the yogi who ‘visits’ the seven sacred cities while remaining motionless in a specific kind of meditation. The exterior pilgrimage is dramatically obvious in the constant movement of people in every part of India, but especially to the seven cities. Prayāga (renamed by the Muslims Allahābad), Gāyā (i.e. Bodhgāyā to Buddhists), and Kāśi are the major sites on the Gaṅgā (Ganges); and of these, Kāśi exceeds all. Indeed, to make pilgrimage and die in Kāśi means that the burden of karma and the necessity for rebirth are removed by Śiva himself. Places of pilgrimage are called in India tīrthas (‘fords’), and the pilgrimage is tīrtha-yatra. In the Tīrtha-yatra section of Mahābhārata, a description is given of the whole of India as a place of pilgrimage, mapping out an itinerary in a clockwise direction.

Buddhism and Jainism



Buddhist pilgrimage is common, in both Theravāda and Mahāyāna forms. Of particular importance are sites where relics are held, e.g. of the Buddha's tooth at Kandy (in Śri Lankā); or where there are associations with the Buddha, especially the places of his birth, first sermon, enlightenment, and parinibbāna, and of his presence, e.g. of his footprint (notably in Śri Lankā on Mount Siripāda, ‘Adam's Mount’, since Muslims revere the footprint as that of Adam, though for Hindus it is that of Śiva). Equally important are sites where cuttings derived from the bo tree (the tree under which the Buddha attained enlightenment) are growing. In China and Japan, mountains are extensively sites of pilgrimage. In China, the Five Peaks are thought to be important for the protection of the country. One, Mount Tai, is Taoist, the other four are associated with four bodhisattvas: Emei is linked with Samantabhadra, Wūtai with Mañjuśrī, Putuo with Avalokiteśvara, and Chiu-hua with Kṣitigarbha. A new emperor was required to make pilgrimage to Mount Tai; to the other four mountains (remote though they are) both monks and laypeople make pilgrimage, known as ‘journeying to a mountain and offering incense’. In Japan, the major Buddhist centres are Saikōkū, dedicated to Kannon (Avalokiteśvara) and Shikōkū. For Japan, see also ISE and FUJISĀN (Fujiyama).

Among Jains, places associated with tīrthaṅkaras or other holy ascetics, or with images of the tīrthaṅkaras, are places of pilgrimage—as indeed may be a living and revered ascetic: particularly revered are places where someone has undertaken sallekhanā (death by fasting). For the Digambaras, the White Lake of the Ascetics (Śravana Belgola), in the state of Karnataka, is of great importance, with its hill on which stands the image of Bahubali, the first person of this world cycle to attain liberation. Of corresponding importance for the Śvetāmbara (see DIGAMBARA) is Mount Śatrunjāya (‘The conqueror of enemies’). It is one of five holy mountains, standing near Palitana in Gujarat. To organize a pilgrimage is an act of great merit for Jain laymen—the equivalent, according to some, of undertaking initiation as a monk. The organizer is called saṅghapati, ‘the lord of the community’ (cf. saṅgha).

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pilgrimage

pilgrimage Religiously motivated journey to a shrine or other holy place in order to gain spiritual help or guidance, or for the purpose of thanksgiving. Pilgrimages are common to many religions, particularly in the East. A Muslim should make the pilgrimage to Mecca, where devotions last two weeks, at least once in his life. This pilgrimage is known as the Hajj. Since the 2nd century ad, Christians have made pilgrimages to Palestine, to the tomb of the Apostles Peter and Paul in Rome, and to that of James in Santiago de Compostela, nw Spain.

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pilgrimage

pil·grim·age / ˈpilgrəmij/ • n. a pilgrim's journey. ∎  a journey to a place associated with someone or something well known or respected: making a pilgrimage to the famous racing circuit. ∎  life viewed as a journey: life's pilgrimage. • v. [intr.] go on a pilgrimage.

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pilgrimage

pilgrimage a journey made to some sacred place, as an act of religious devotion.
Pilgrimage of Grace the name given to a series of popular risings in northern England in 1536 and 1537 opposing the dissolution of the monasteries and other features of the Reformation.

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pilgrimage

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