For centuries, people have put themselves through rigid and arduous journeys, generally known as pilgrimages. It could be a spiritual journey taking them to internal discovery, a physical journey to get away from the din and clutter of civilisation, a devotional journey to a sacred place–but for what? What exactly does a pilgrimage entail?
Inside the brain of a layperson, the word instantly triggers pictures of people climbing mountains in the blistering heat, gathering around sacred monuments, walking barefoot on rugged roads, struggling with unbearable weather conditions and taking a journey to holy places in search of God, or perhaps, meaning of life.
However, a pilgrimage, over time has become much more.
Pilgrimage has come far from being just a holy trip to becoming a journey for the soul.
Destination or expedition?
Oxford dictionary defines pilgrimage as a journey to a place of particular interest or life viewed as a journey. Ever since it originated from the old French word, Pelerinage, it meant different things to different people. But the one thing that has remained constant about pilgrimage is the life-altering effect it has on those who undertake it.
Often associated with religion, pilgrimage has come far from being just a holy trip to becoming a journey for the soul. A pilgrim could be a man visiting his grandparents’ home to relive his childhood days; a professional taking a break from work and hiking the Himalayas; a child wanting to go to Disneyland; someone on a nature trail; a convalescing old man visiting the place of his faith; a music lover on his way to a music festival. A pilgrim could be you or me.
A place of pilgrimage could be any place of significance for the pilgrim. Getting there could be a journey that can be both invigorating and stimulating. It can open your eyes, your mind, making you aware of yourself and the world around. It is a profound experience for the body and more so, for the spirit.
So, go ahead, take a pilgrimage. This time, for your soul.