What is a Pilgrimage?


A pilgrimage, a yatra, is a divine experience. It is an internal journey as well as an outer journey. A true pilgrimage takes us not only to a source of the Divine in the external world but should also take us to the Divinity within ourselves.

A pilgrimage involves giving up certain comforts and the ego. Thus pilgrimage centres are situated on hills or in remote places, involving several days of travel, physical discomfort and even travel by foot – any one or more of these.

We are able to see the Divine in the temple, but we are not able to see the Divine in   people, places, animals and ecosystems. However, rather than treating our pilgrimage areas as temples, we are actually causing harm to our towns, cities, villages and natural places as we venture on a pilgrimage.

Our cities and towns are being destroyed through the filth and waste generated as millions of pilgrims descend on them; our natural forests are also being affected due to our religious observance.

It is ironic and tragic that we pray to Mother Ganga and throw plastic bags and food waste into the river, polluting the water. Each step on the path of pilgrimage should be regarded as holy, not just the destination.

Several natural parks, reserve forests and protected tiger reserves are also destroyed through religious pilgrimage. When millions of people visit holy shrines inside forest areas, animals and their natural habitat are greatly disrupted, giving way to man-animal conflict. The true spirit of pilgrimage is to honour God in all His forms.

Every day, hundreds of thousands of people around the world are on pilgrimage irrespective of religion, caste or creed. People have deep faith and go on pilgrimage – for a few hours, days, weeks or months.


Image Source: http://npjayan.com/project/thathwamasi-a-photo-documentation-around-the-sabarimala-forests/


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